Annie last rode in her 20s but started again with Lambourn RDA in November 2017 on the advice of her social worker. She had been partially paralysed by a stroke on 12 May 2012 leaving her with left side weakness, especially in her hand and fingers.
In January 2018, Annie said “Riding has enabled me to walk without a stick because it has strengthened my core muscles. I haven’t used a wheelchair for months or a stick since before Christmas”
Her husband Stuart can’t believe the transformation in his wife since she started riding again.
“Annie had shut herself off from the world, but when she started riding again her confidence and poise came back. She was a different person.”
The rest of the family noticed the change in Annie after only six weeks of riding.
“She could do so much more, there was a massive difference.”
Annie has a private half an hour lesson each week at Lambourn RDA with instructor Frances Lochrane, who is the south region chairman and one of the region’s coaches.
“Within a couple of weeks of Annie coming to us she had stopped using her stick and her whole demeanour changed – she is much more positive. Riding appears to have helped her enormously.”
On 20 May 2018 Annie qualified at the RDA southern regionals for the RDA National Championships at Hartpury College on 13-15 July. Annie competed on Ant in the lead walk dressage test, overcoming her nerves and rode really well to complete her test.
“Frances and her staff are so friendly,” said Annie. “It’s a wonderful place, no-one should be afraid of trying riding again.”
On 21 June 2018, Annie was presented with an achievement award for her determination to succeed after her stroke, at the RDA Fun Day at Wellington Equestrian Centre.
“Today has given me the belief again that I can do it and riding is the one reason to get up in the morning. I am at my happiest sitting on a horse,” said Annie afterwards.
Edited from Horse & Hound Magazine
I started riding at Lambourn RDA in November 2017. Hand on heart, it has completely changed my life – for the better!
Following a diagnosis of MS in 2014, my world was turned upside down. My career disintegrated, and life revolved around hospitals, drugs, needles, and pain. I needed to change that so I thought about the things that gave me the greatest pleasure in life. Putting food and wine aside (!), my first love, horses, came to the front of my mind. I used to ride, a lot, but a busy career had put that on hold. Now I had time on my hands so I got in touch with Lambourn RDA.
At 43 years old with a sometimes invisible disability, I wasn’t sure if they’d take me on but I was welcomed with open arms. That first meeting with them quite literally changed the course of my life.
When I first arrived, the familiar smell of horse, hay and leather re-ignited a passion that had been dormant for many years. Pure joy! I felt at home, safe and supported. I rode every week, coached by fabulous instructors who understood my condition and gave me great confidence.
I am now fitter and stronger as a result. I have goals, I have renewed self esteem and I ride whenever I can under Lambourn’s continuous guidance. I will start competing this summer in RDA Dressage – something I had never even dreamt of a couple of years ago!
So, if you’re thinking about giving this a go, stop thinking and pay Lambourn RDA a visit. I’m very glad I did!
My equine story starts when I was 5 years old when one Saturday my Aunt & Uncle could not take my cousin to her horse riding lesson, so my Mother and Father took her and I was just going along for the ride! That was it, I was hooked and from then on, without fail, come rain or shine, every spare moment you would find me at the stables, grooming horses, cleaning stables and riding, gaining every bit of knowledge I could.
In or around 1967, the stable owner asked me if I could help with children with special needs who came to ride from a local school. I was so pleased to have this amazing opportunity and experience of being able to volunteer and help with the ponies and children.
Little did I know that many years later my life would be turned around and I would be that person on the horse with someone leading me, encouraging and helping me!
I had my first stroke 16yrs ago, which resulted in left side weakness. It took me lots and lots of hard work and determination to get better over the following 2 or 3yrs and finally I was back on track, or so I thought!!! Then I had another stroke which affected my speech/balance & coordination. To complicate matters, shortly afterwards I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was a real shock.
As a result of this, I retreated into myself, never wanting to go anywhere or do anything “what was the point?” I’d say to myself. Then one day someone from West Berkshire health-care sector came to assess me and he suggested going along to Lambourn RDA.
I had not been on a horse for 10yrs or so and I had lost all my confidence as our own horses were too good for me to ride. But thanks to all the patient volunteers and staff at Lambourn RDA, I am back riding and Competing again, all be it a far lower level. So now, with fingers crossed, I’m hoping to get qualified again to compete In this years RDA National Championships with my special friend Wispa (the wonder horse). I really can’t say enough for the patience and efforts of all the instructors and volunteers at Lambourn RDA, thank you.
I have now been given the position of South Region Rider Representative, which goes to show, it’s not what you can’t do, but what you can do that makes the change.
The rest of the work is still on going. We have our ups and downs, but more ups than downs now thankfully.