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Liv's Story

The mother of an eight-year-old diagnosed with cerebral palsy has high hopes her daughter’s condition will improve, now that she is riding horses once a week.

Marcia Nelson says she has seen a difference in her daughter Liv Fountain’s condition after taking her to the Gisborne Group Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).

“As soon as she gets off the Horse her legs are more mobile, they loosen up and she can walk better with her walker,” she says.

“Over time her trunk has become stronger and her posture better.”

Cerebral palsy causes Liv’s muscles to tighten, but the Horse riding helps to relax them and, as a bonus, has also improved her confidence.

“It’s the motion of the Horse — it’s a rocking motion that kind of helps everything to relax. But it is confidence as well. Being a small person on a big Horse and feeling safe and confident really helps.”

In addition, Ms Nelson is teaching her daughter to ride a bike and to swim.

“It’s important that people living with disabilities can do sports, and Horse riding is something that Liv can do regardless of her disability—it’s great.”

She says Liv, who used to be upset at the sight of Horses as a little girl, faced her fears and the experience transformed rapidly from negative to positive.

Gisborne Group RDA puts an emphasis on the benefits of improving social and confidence skills through therapeutic Horse riding.

“Some children are crying and don’t want to go near the Horse, but by the time they’re finished they’re all smiling and happy and don’t want to get off — they can’t wait to get back on,” says one of the RDA’s volunteers.

“There was one little boy and it took weeks and weeks before he would even smile at the Volunteer,” she said.

“It feels good — like you’ve achieved something. To some people it might be a small, tiny, insignificant thing, but it could be a big breakthrough in the Rider’s social skills.”

Manager Amy Allan said their work at the Gisborne Group RDA was highly rewarding, especially seeing the progress with their Riders.

“We are very lucky to have such great support and dedication from all our hard-working Volunteers and physiotherapists.”

Find out more about Gisborne Group RDA at www.facebook.com/GisborneRDA

Thanks to Israa Emhai, Gisborne Herald (www.gisborneherald.co.nz) for the story and image.

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