21Jun Niu 4

Niu is becoming braver

Published: 06/09/2021

There’s something magical about a horse. He has developed a warmer relationship with people. You can see the love for the horses and for riding in his eyes. He adores the horses. Niu has been using great vocabulary – Gorgeous, Brilliant, My Best Friend.”

Niu is one of our adult riders. Niu really enjoys riding and it has made a huge difference in his life.

What kind of difference has it made in his life?

Niu has more courage. He is braver.  He thinks “I can do this, I can give this a try”.

Before starting at RDA, he would refuse to do some activities. Now the change is unbelievable – he wants to do activities outside of Riding for the Disabled.

He still has his “unbrave” moments. But his Mum, Fiona, says he is happier and he wants to interact with people more.

Niu has quite a few conditions that make everyday life a bit more tricky. He has epilepsy, microcephaly and he is on the autism spectrum.

But riding means he is happier. He has some sparkle in his life.

Niu is 30 years old and has been riding for three years. In that time, his Mum says he has really opened up. He is communicating beyond the family. He is excited about life.

Before coming to Riding for the Disabled, Niu was almost silent. Now, he is much more talkative.

What are the goals that Niu is working towards? Improving his balance is one of his key aims. He is aiming to sit up tall, improve his core muscles which will assist in balancing and core strength. Often he has a bit of lean when he is on the horse so he is practicing sitting up straight.

This goal of improving balance helps in his daily life outside of riding. Better balance helps him to walk more easily.

Without the benefits of riding, Niu is more likely to fall over. When he has been to his riding sessions, his balance improves and its easier for him to walk up and down stairs and even do a little running.

Better balance also means that he can now ride a tandem bike – so it’s fun for Mum or Dad to go for a ride with him. Now they have a new activity that they can do together.

On his wall at home, Niu has his ribbons and certificates. He has become very interested in horses - he has a blanket with horses on it, and he has a model horse. If he sees a horse, he wants to stop the car and get out and say hello.

Socially and emotionally, riding is beneficial. Niu can talk to others at Riding for the Disabled.

And he has made a friend - another rider who is a few years younger than him. So now he can go to the swimming pool, or have lunch, with his friend and their caregiver.

Fiona, his Mum, has nothing but praise for the staff and volunteers at her local Riding for the Disabled group.

“I have never felt so loved and cared for. The staff and volunteers are immensely caring and gifted people”.

Fiona says “Sometimes Niu doesn’t like meeting new people and doesn’t like going to places – even fun places like the beach. But this is never a problem at Riding for the Disabled!”

She says it’s easy. “Niu is always happy to go to Riding for the Disabled. When he is there, there is never any failure, only success. Niu knows what to expect and he is very confident. He feels safe and secure.”

“After he has gone for his ride, he goes over to see the horses in the stable and he pats them. He’s not afraid of them and he loves to see the horses.”

Fiona is a science teacher. She works two days a week so that she can spend quite a bit of time with Niu.

When Fiona is teaching at school, Niu has a carer for two days. He goes with his carer to see the sheep and the chickens. He collects eggs. He walks the dog. He goes swimming. He cooks. So they have fun together.

When Fiona is at home with Niu, they do art, they go walking, they do some gardening together.

So Niu has plenty of activities. But riding has been special for Niu. It has really made an enormous difference for the family.

“There’s something magical about a horse. He has developed a warmer relationship with people. You can see the love for the horses and for riding in his eyes. He adores the horses. Niu has been using great vocabulary – Gorgeous, Brilliant, My Best Friend.”

So that’s how chatty he is! And he is communicating well beyond his family.

There was a 5 month wait before Niu was able to get a place at riding. But since he started, his Mum says he has never looked back.

Often in the morning he asks his Mum “Is it riding day?” He might bring his Mum his helmet. It’s the highlight of his week. It gives his life meaning. It’s something to look forward to.

It’s improved family life too. Niu has learned to throw a ball at a target He knows that the ball can be thrown into a hoop.

“Throw it in!” he says at home when he is playing basketball with his Mum and Dad.

“You should see the joy on his face. He has a grin. He is over-joyed. He walks around. And being at Riding for the Disabled touches him deeply."

His Mum says there are other gains. Now Niu has a better awareness of the days of the week. Before, he was not sure of what day it was. Now he knows when it is a riding day.

Fiona explains some more. “Niu’s current horse is called Jeff. The other day I burst into tears. I was so proud of Niu. I watched him go over to Jeff the horse and feed him a carrot and an apple. Niu was confident. Niu was happy. And he felt safe and secure. He was patting Jeff and he was so independent.”

I just feel so grateful and so happy that Niu has been able to go to riding.

I want everyone to know how wonderful it has been for our family.

More than anything, I want other children and adults to have the opportunity to be riders”.

Riding makes such a difference. For Niu, he talks more, and he enjoys life more. His balance has improved and he can walk better.

Together we can build a world where disabled people can participate in, and contribute to, activities and their communities.

Donate now and help riders like Niu to become braver!