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Mathilde's Story

Mathilde, 4, rides at Wanganui Group RDA and is regarded as one of their biggest success stories. Born at only 26 weeks, Mathilde lives with global development delay, heart defects and is deaf - disabilities that have each had a major impact on her young life.  Despite this, she is a bright and happy girl with a great smile.

In 2013 the decision was made to take Mathilde to Wanganui Group RDA for regular therapeutic riding sessions.  At the time she was non-verbal, and apprehensive about being part of an RDA riding session, in part because she had never been on a Horse before.  Her mother Kylie initially had doubts that Riding for the Disabled would be able to help her daughter, but agreed to give it a go.

Wanganui Group RDA’s Wendy Sellars says that the first riding session did not go as anticipated.

“Mathilde climbed on her Horse, and promptly screamed her way through her first riding session as she was led around the arena.

Eventually she got over the initial shock, calmed down and stopped screaming, then began to smile and cuddle the horse as we rode around.  It was an emotional sight.”

The sessions continued and after trialling several different RDA Horses, Mathilde settled on Toby – a big 12-year-old Clydesdale X Gelding who has been at Wanganui Group for the past three years.

Wendy says that everyone at the Group is immensely proud of Mathilde and how far she has come in the last year.

“One of Mathilde’s biggest achievements since coming to RDA is that she has become verbal.  This has had an immense impact on her ability to communicate with people, particularly her family, and has given her a measure of confidence and independence.  She has come a long way since her first riding session, and her growth over the past year has been immeasurable.”

Earlier this month, Mathilde competed in her first ever Dressage day at Wanganui Group RDA, one of 20 Riders to take part in this event.  Riding on top of Toby, Mathilde completed her Dressage event and scored 98 out of 130 with the Judges.  This was made even more remarkable by the fact that Mathilde rode independently for this event (ie without someone holding the Horse’s lead rope), a solid achievement for any four year old.

The judges comments about Mathilde’s Dressage ride included: “Your Horse is a friend and does what you ask him to.  You rode straight, navigated the poles evenly and displayed good turning. You had a great smile and made a good combination with your Horse.”

Mathilde is keen to be part of the next Dressage day, and Wendy and the team at Wanganui Group RDA are keen to support this remarkable young girl as she continues to shine.

You can read more about Wanganui Group RDA at: www.facebook.com/WanganuiRidingForTheDisabled

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