Back in October 2015 I was asked by my local RDA – The Shelley Centre for Therapeutic Riding – If I would go over and take some photos of their horses and ponies for them to use with their sponsor a pony scheme to help raise much needed funds that help keep the centre running.
The Shelley Centre is incredibly close to my heart as for many years it was where I rode. I had an non riding accident when I was just shy of 11 years old, that left me with spinal cord damage. This meant after coming out of hospital 7 months later as a wheelchair user with – as I describe them – wonky legs, I had to learn how to ride again without the full use of my legs. I cannot tell you how incredible the work is that they do, and how many lives have been changed and helped by the centre over the years and I was lucky enough to witness many. Shelley gave me the chance to feel more like me again in a time where absolutely everything in my life had changed. The horses were (and are) absolutely amazing, so calm and caring and they really look after you. Obviously as I got older and got horses of my own I moved on, but I will always go to visit and rave about how amazing they are!!
RDA is not just about riding horses for the sake of riding. Riding horses is incredibly therapeutic, for both mind and body. 10 minutes on horseback is equivalent to around 30 minutes physiotherapy, the movement of the horse when you are riding moves your hips in a way similar to if you were walking and it stretches and works all muscles (some you never even knew could ache!!). Core muscles strengthen helping stability and balance, muscles relax and become more supple, muscle spasms reduce and co-ordination improves.
Being around and riding the horses is also great for confidence! As many horse riders/owners are aware horses are incredibly intuitive, and as recent studies have shown (although I am sure horse owners agree that we knew this years before the latest scientific study! 😛 ) Horses recognise human emotions, so when you are around horses you have to change how you are feeling because horses know, and it certainly has an impact on their behaviour. Because of this it teaches a bit about self control and responsibility toward others.
For more information on the RDA and The Shelley Centre for Therapeutic riding, or if you would like to enquire about how you would be able to help, from sponsorship to volunteering, I have included some links below that would be helpful!
And without further ado here are the photos I took of The Shelley Centres Beautiful Horses & Ponies!!