When I was a child, I attended Riding for the Disabled in New Zealand. I have a few fond memories of that time…and one of my main memories is of loving being around those majestic creatures, the horses themselves!
Unfortunately, outside of ‘RDA’ – in the past I have had a couple of unfortunate experiences of being on horses, and having them ‘bolt’ (fright) – once when I was at primary school at a school fete, I was having a ‘pony ride’…when along came the noisy bagpipes! Needless to say, the horse I was on did not like this one bit – and let me know this by throwing me off! My next not-so-good experience while on a horse was when I was 19, I was on a ‘trail’ with other horses and people (a quiet, safe trail where we had strict instructions NOT to make the horses go any faster than a slow walk around the short course). For some unknown reason, one of the men in our group decided to kick his horse into a fast gallop…straight past the horse I was on – resulting in my horse revving up and giving chase! How I managed to hold/stay on until someone came up and brought my horse under control, I will never know!
Ever since that second moment – I have never been game enough to get back up on a horse. I love horses and being around them, they are such beautiful, gentle giants…but I have just never been game enough to, quite literally ‘get back up on the horse’.
After mid-year 2016, when I knew I had recovered enough from my major surgery earlier in the year for my body to now be able to handle more physical activity – I contacted the local Sunshine Coast Riding for the Disabled branch, telling them of my past history with RDA in NZ – as well as my previous ‘bolting’ experiences with those two horses….and of my want to ride a horse again. They were only too keen for me to join in and support me to get back up onto a horse again! Awesome!
On Tuesday 4th October, I headed out for a short drive into the country to the RDA complex – and immediately felt myself relax as soon as I headed out of town. THIS is what I do this whole ‘bucketlist way of life’ for! This year has not been kind to me personally…but as soon as I drove out of town and knew I would be around these beautiful horses and in a rural area – I got ‘out of my head/current stressors’ and became fully present, in that moment. Just what I needed…and exactly why I live this life – to remind me to ‘just be’ at every opportunity I can!
After heading into the building and meeting staff, and then Sharon, the horse handler I’ll be working with for the first part of my babysteps towards getting up onto a horse again – we went out and met the beautiful Flash! RDA works in ‘terms’ and a slow/gentle approach – my first term will be ‘grooming, and familiarising myself with being around ‘my’ horse’, next term will be carriage riding (think, old-fashioned horse & cart-style), then after that – and when I feel ready – back UP and riding again! What a beautiful experience this is all going to be!
Meet my new friend Flash…isn’t he gorgeous! He was so gentle, so calming to be around. He tried to munch my wheelchair when introduced to me haha the rascal (but I know he was only exploring it as something new)! I had a beautiful moment with him…animals seem to know when somethings ‘amiss’ with us as humans – I leant forward to reach for something, he immediately put his nose/face around to my lower back and just sat it there until I moved…this is where my ‘spina bifida lesion’ is, it really was as if he somehow sensed it was there, and so wanted to ‘soothe it’, as animals seem to want to do with us.
I spent my session patting him, grooming him, and gently talking to him as well as handler Sharon -I could have stayed there all day, it was such a calming experience!
Such a beautiful morning…thank you Sunshine Coast RDA…and of course, Flash!
Cant wait for next session. RDA do such fantastic work in the community, the benefits to its participants are more than people may realise
ANYTHING is Possible…when you have gentle animals to calm you and remind you to ‘just be’!