Jack gets a lot out of riding
Jack is a lively four and a half year old. He has amniotic band syndrome. For Jack, that means he is missing his lower arm.
But at Riding for the Disabled, no one sees this. They only see what he can do. They see Jack first, not his disability first.
So what has Riding for the Disabled done for Jack?
His Mum, Loren, couldn’t be more positive. She says “It’s helped him immensely. With his physical skills. With his gross motor skills. And with his confidence.”
His teacher at daycare has also really noticed the difference. Here’s what his Mum says his teacher has reported. “Jack is climbing up ladders. He’s walking along planks, He used to be petrified of slides – but now he can go down a slide, no problem!”.
The exercises that Jack does at Riding for the Disabled are designed to get him doing things so that his co-ordination improves.
Coach Claire asks Jack to reach over. To pick things up. To carry things around. Loren can tell that Claire has made his programme to be tailored exactly to him and his needs.
Loren continues. “I notice that they match the horses perfectly to the riders. For Jack, he is very lively so they have popped him on Chief. When they go trotting, Jack gets to have fun going faster. All the while there is a side walker to watch Jack and a leader for the horse.”
“Jack is proud of his riding. He knows that it is something that his friends don’t do – just him. It’s an environment where he can.
Sometimes at other places it can be a struggle - because he can’t do everything. But at RDA he can go riding and he knows that his friends don’t do such an exciting activity.”
The whole environment is great for Jack’s family. It feels like a safe environment. Jack doesn’t feel different. Jack comes first. The Coach and volunteers are there interacting with Jack and the other riders.
Loren comments, “It’s a nice place for the parents. It’s a place where you can have conversations with other parents – conversations that you can’t have in your ordinary day, at other places.”
Jack’s Mum can remember when Jack started at Riding for the Disabled. “We rocked up for the first ride. We were a bit unsure. How would Jack feel? Would he refuse to get on the horse?”
“Jack has always been chatty. He’s comfortable to talk to random strangers. He’s personable. While he’s always been lively, he can be unsure in new situations. We came in to the building, we saw the big arena. I thought he would be terrified. But it was so easy!
Jack went in. He put his helmet on - I told him everyone needs a helmet to go riding! The volunteer came along and introduced herself and Jack went happily with her to get on the horse. How did that happen so easily?” said his Mum.
And now Jack lives for Wednesday! He goes trotting. He experiences the freedom of being on a horse. He has many accomplishments.
Jack talks much more now – he says “Walk On Chief”. “Halt Chief”.
Jack is in charge!
He can pick up the reins, he practices his steering, he learns to go left and go right.
Jack goes for walks on his horse. When he is outside, he laughs and giggles. The horse walks under the trees and Jack can see the fresh green leaves up close.
Jack’s Mum sums it up. “The work RDA does is so amazing. I’ve been thinking that when Jack is older, and perhaps both my boys are at school, I’m totally going to keep going as a volunteer. I’m definitely going to be giving back.”
Jack has quite a few goals at the moment – he’s working on his left / right skills, his balance, and his core strength. Go Jack! Reach your goals!
Will you help other riders just like Jack to get the most out of riding?
Will you consider a regular gift and make a difference all year long?
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In October 2015 I fell while jumping my young horse and sustained a spinal cord injury which has left me a T4/5 paraplegic.
I have been a horse rider since the age of 12. Before my accident I was a competitive rider competing mainly in Eventing. When I left the Burwood Spinal Unit in February 2016 I was determined to ride again, but unsure if it was even possible.”
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