Cohan is living his best life!

Cohan is living his best life!

February 27, 2024

Everyone says that Cohan has achieved so much since he began riding.

Cohan is an adult rider in his thirties. He has been riding at RDA for about 14 months.

When he started Cohan was a man of few words. Now, after riding for over a year, he is more chatty, and he engages and connects more with other people. He has also gained lots of transferable skills that assist him in his everyday life and in his community.

We need more trained volunteers and coaches to support Cohan, and other riders like him, to live their best lives.

Here’s what his Nana, Helen, had to say.

“Cohan started RDA with his caregiver and he was happy to brush the pony. He is not able to concentrate for long but he loved Christmas and having Santa there. But after that excitement he got bored and so we considered quitting because we didn’t want to waste everybody’s time. I went down to RDA to tell them and they said: “Give us a few weeks – we will see if he changes his mind.” Within two or three weeks they had him up on the back of the horse and he’s loving it! He misses it when it is the school holidays, and is always asking when it is time to go and see the horses. I have seen the RDA people working alongside him at his pace and giving him a sense of belonging in the community. What he has achieved is brilliant!”

Helen says at first Cohan did not want to get on a horse. His trained and qualified Coach, Dorothee, knew how to help him.  She had him practicing using a barrel so he would know how to get on and off his horse. She also familiarised him with the process and organised for him to be at the mounting block next to her so he could see the horse come, wait and then go.

With good support and coaching Cohan did get on his horse. It was for just a short time – about 10 minutes – and he needed four people to be around him, but he was on!

Now, he has just one person leading the horse and he is able to last for the full riding session. Cohan does not want to get off his horse.

Kelly, his caregiver, talks about the changes she has seen in Cohan.

“Cohan is doing so well with horse riding, every Thursday he is asking if he is going to go to horse riding. When we first started going to RDA, Cohan wasn’t so keen and struggled to get on the horse. The people at RDA were very patient with him and started small. Cohan can now get on the horse himself. Before he gets on the horse, he does his exercises and this has helped with his mobility. The people at RDA have done such a wonderful job with Cohan and it is a joy to see every time he gets onto the horse and achieves a goal.”

Kelly talks about the importance of our RDA people – we know the value of our RDA people and the amazing input they have into the outcomes for our disabled riders.

We don’t do pony rides! Our RDA ride teams are highly skilled and knowledgeable but we all recognise the ongoing need to train and learn.

Cohan thrived in the RDA environment where he was supported by skilled and knowledgeable RDA people who knew how to help him.  We need more of these people to help our riders every day.

Cohan is learning to hold the reins correctly. This improves his fine motor skills and his grip.  He is using the reins to steer his horse and in the process he is learning left and right and how to encourage the horse to move towards the location that he wants. It is great for him to enjoy being in control and understand the concept of being in charge.

The benefits of therapeutic horse riding can be obvious such as Cohan just being outside in the fresh air and just being active. Before he goes riding he does his exercises – so the reward of horse riding is a great incentive to get his exercises done.  They no longer are a chore.

With the improvement in his balance and core strength he can ride to the nearby Shingle Beach with one of his RDA people beside him. How cool is that? His improved posture on the horse has also meant an improved posture on the ground when Cohan walks.

Not so obvious benefits are how much better he is at following instructions, how he can wait his turn and he is now listening, acknowledging and replying.  He says hello and will thank his team at the end of the ride session and say goodbye. These are such important skills for Cohan to help him be confident in communicating with his peers and in his community.

Cohan has progressed so much he has achieved his initial goals and is moving onto new goals that further develop his life skills and confidence.

Cohan has been supported every step of the way by his great coach and volunteers – who know how to set goals to enable Cohan to achieve, and then how to set him up to succeed.

Riding has been a positive influence in Cohan’s life and he is very proud of what he has achieved.

Cohan is enjoying riding. But there are so many others that are on the waiting list. Waiting for the availability of suitably trained volunteers and Coaches to support them on their riding journeys.

Having trained Coaches and volunteers is critical to supporting our riders.  We need to constantly upskill and train our dedicated RDA people and you can help. Give a gift and make a difference for disabled children and adults.

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