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Samantha's Story

Samantha Orr is taking one step at a time thanks to her Riding Sessions at Totara Park Group RDA.

Greg and Susan Orr describe their daughter as a bubbly and bright three year old girl, who walks with ‘a bit of a wobble’, likes to ‘read’ books, sing songs and play with her toys.

She could almost be mistaken for any other small girl her age, but the reality is that it’s taken an immense amount of hard work and persistence to get Samantha to where she is now.

Diagnosed with Hypotonia (poor muscle tone and strength), Greg and Susan were initially told by doctors that Samantha would never walk.  This was evident in the length of time it took her to reach the milestone of being able to crawl, as she lacked the strength to even lift her head properly. 

Physiotherapy sessions helped, with Susan spent many hours working with Samantha on a series of exercises designed to develop her muscles.  These sessions helped Samantha to get enough strength to use a modified walking frame.  She was then able to progress from a seated position on the walking frame to being able to stand, and special boots were also used to support her ankle joints.

But progress was slow, and Samantha had gained a lot of weight, so Susan was finding it increasingly difficult to lift her daughter.

Then staff at CCS Disability Action, along with a friend of Susan and Greg’s, suggested that Riding for the Disabled might be of help.  To her parent’s joy, Samantha was accepted into the Riding Programme at Totara Park Group RDA, aged 2 years and 8 months – one of their youngest Riders.

Susan says that her daughter’s first ride at the Totara Park Group RDA Arena was an amazing experience, with Samantha, her Leaders and Sidewalkers all feeling “exhausted” afterwards.

“It was great to watch Samantha being helped onto her Horse ‘Amigo’, and cheerfully setting off for her first Riding Session with a big smile on her face.“

Following many months of intensive therapeutic Riding Sessions, Samantha’s muscle tone gradually improved, and her core strength developed significantly.

On 9th August 2013, Samantha walked unaided for the first time in her life - a cause for celebration for her family and friends, as well as the Volunteers and staff at Totara Park Group RDA.

Although still somewhat wobbly, she is quickly learning to do things that her parents had only dreamed about, such as walking unaided across the bridge at her pre-school for the first time – a feat which astounded her proud mum and dad.

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