A couple of the effects of Charlies Cerebral Palsy is that he suffers from tightening in his groin and also weakness of the core. Now whilst he has physio at least 5 days a week to help with this, amongst various other interventions, we are always on the look out for other things which may help. It was Jo who came across a post on Facebook for the RDA (Riding for the disabled Association) and decided to do some research into the potential benefits that Horse riding could bring.
After some initial internet research we decided that this was an avenue worth exploring further. We decided to speak to our OT, who, it turns out, own horses and is an avid rider! Our OT agreed that it has the potential to be beneficial in relation to Core Strength, gate and posture.
Back to the internet it was to do some more research into the RDA. We found out the RDA have centres all over the UK and thankfully it turns out that our local RDA, (RDA Saddleworth) is only a 20 minute drive from where we live! Saddleworth RDA is the newest addition to the network of RDA’s and there facebook page states:
“Saddleworth RDA is a newly formed Riding for the Disabled group based in the Oldham area. Since June 2018 we have offered opportunities for local adults and children with physical and learning disabilities to experience horse care and horse riding sessions. Our aim is to enable as many children and adults in the Saddleworth, Oldham and Rochdale area as possible to experience the benefits of horse riding.”
We sent them a message explaining about Charlie and his cerebral Palsy and that we would love to try him at Horse Riding! We were offered a date and time to come and look at the facilities, where they would assess Charlie and see how he got on and if this would be suitable for him!
RDA Saddleworth is set in the most beautiful surroundings and I don’t think you could find any where nicer to ride a horse! Parking can be a little difficult at the actual stables if you have a large vehicle, however you can park about a 10 minute walk away on the road and walk up the lane if this is suitable for you. On arrival we were immediately met by one of the wonderful volunteers who instantly made us feel welcome and showed us down to the stables. Charlie was introduced to Dylan the horse he would be riding and was asked if he would like to have a ride today and see how he got on!
Charlie was a little apprehensive (to be expected!) but was excited and jumped at the chance to have a ride. I lifted Charlie onto Dylan whilst 4 volunteers assisted and reassured Charlie that he was doing great. Charlie had a bit of a “moment” at this point and started to get a little worried and upset. Again the volunteers were fantastic and explained everything to him, reassured him and gave him the confidence to go for it!
Why not check out our video too!
I think the initial worry lasted all of 2 minutes before this huge beaming smile came across Charlie’s face! He was taken out for about 20 minutes which he absolutely loved every single minute of! Afterwards we had a de-brief and all parties agreed that this certainly looked to be something which Charlie would benefit from and so we instantly booked out first “Proper” lesson for two weeks time.
At this lesson he was taken first onto the Paddock where he mounted Dylan, no nerves this time just that winning smile! He has around 15 minutes in the Paddock completing different tasks to increase is confidence and working on posture etc, and then another 15 minute walk around the wonderful lanes taking in the amazing views.
Charlie absolutely loves his lessons here and cant wait every week to be back! We have not yet been going long enough to assess the Physical Benefits, however the confidence, social, enjoyment and postural benefits are already showing!
Thanks so much Saddleworth RDA!
How to find them: