Hannah learns to walkAdmin
Hannah arrived at RDA in a wheelchair.
She left RDA walking.
The story seems incredible – but it is real.
Hannah was only five when she started riding. And it is this early start that has helped her to develop her strength.
What a wonderful chance for riders to be able to experience the freedom that riding brings.
Hannah’s Mum, Elizabeth, fills us in on the details about how riding helps.
“Hannah was five when she came to RDA. She had low muscle tone and global developmental delay. We had been told that Hannah would always need an aid to be able to walk.
When Hannah first began at RDA, Hannah was a wheelchair user. She was not able to stand by herself.
After a while, she was able to walk in with some help from another person.
Later, she was able to walk in with the help of her walking frame.
And now finally, she is walking independently.”
Hannah aged five years old with horse Ben
Hannah’s Mum says everything about RDA was therapy. Even walking up the ramp counted as therapy – Hannah could hold onto the rail with two hands and walk up the ramp sideways with the aid of the rail. So this was therapy happening before she even got onto the horse!
Hannah on the ramp
Hannah’s Mum told us about how Hannah was able to improve over time and accomplish new goals.
Hannah’s Mum says there were many benefits for Hannah from RDA. Not just physical, but also with speech and language, and with social skills.
Hannah was able to practice her memory skills and her letter recognition skills. For example, if her Coach asked her to ride to the letter “A” or the letter “C”, then Hannah was able to complete this request.
She also learned “left” and “right”, and she learned which way to turn. Hannah’s Mum says it this has made a difference for biking. When she was old enough, Hannah got a three-wheeler bike and the experts thought that she would not be able to learn to steer. But she was able to steer her bike – because she had practiced steering her horse. So another win for Hannah – more choices and another activity that she was able to participate in and enjoy.
When Hannah was twelve years old she had to have surgery to have her ankles fused. She had a cast on both legs. She also has scoliosis – a curvature of the spine. Riding was helpful for her scoliosis as it helped to increase her strength, reduce her pain, and improve her posture. So Hannah has had some challenges to meet from time to time. But through all of this, she has come back to horse-riding and it has given her transferrable skills that have made a real difference in her everyday life.
Hannah’s Mum remembers when she used to pick up Hannah from school. The other kids were envious – everybody else wished that they could go horse riding. For a parent this was great – suddenly, your child was participating in an activity that was exciting.
One of the things that Hannah loved about RDA was the routine. She liked to get her helmet and then to read the board – she read all of the details from the board. So Hannah would say out loud the name of her horse, her gear (saddle or sheepskin), her horse leader, and her sidewalkers. The board was a visual cue, and it was a reason to read.
A Christmas photo of Hannah aged 21 riding horse Spatz
Hannah has learned many horse-riding skills over the years. She can now ask her horse to walk and she is able to have the lead rope off. Hannah can’t trot or gallop. But she is in charge of the horse and can ask the horse to follow her instructions. Hannah loves horses and she talks constantly about the horses.
Her first horse was a big horse called Ben. Hannah still talks about Ben. Now her horse is called Spatz and he is also a favourite. The Collins dictionary suggests that the name Spatz can translate as “darling” or “honey” – now that’s a nice name for a horse!
From five years old to twenty-one years old – Hannah is quite grown up now. Riding for the Disabled has made a huge difference in her life. And as Hannah is still riding, it will keep making a difference.
It’s hard to believe that a change from “not walking” to “walking” can happen. But it does.
The outcomes may be small or significant it doesn’t matter. What matters is that therapeutic horse riding enables and supports our riders to achieve good lives.
Your kind gift can make a difference for a disabled person.
Don’t delay – choose to give a gift and choose to support riders as they learn new skills.