Claire’s Story

Claire has been coming to Riding for the Disabled for about 18 months. She has Down’s Syndrome and has very poor muscle tone in her lower body due to complications after heart surgery.

Claire is reasonably strong in her upper body and can push herself in her wheelchair. She is nearly 11 years old.

Riding gives Claire lots of opportunities which she would not otherwise have. Firstly a “higher” view of the world as most of the time she is in her wheelchair, or using a walking frame. Her balance is good when riding and she is free from straps and buckles and belts which she uses for much of the day.

Children with physical disabilities use lots of “equipment” in their daily lives and it is wonderful for Claire to have this unique opportunity to come in contact with something alive, and to challenge her to consider the well-being, feelings etc. of the horse.

Claire Her muscle tone has greatly improved since beginning riding, particularly in her legs and trunk and it is encouraging to see her trying to “stand” in her stirrups.

Because of the nature of their disabilities, children like Claire do not have the same access to outdoor activities as their peers and it is lovely that she has the chance to be out in the fresh air, feeling and seeing the change in the seasons and weather.

While riding, there are lots of opportunities for “incidental” learning, such as counting, science, geography, history, reading etc. – all can be done almost without Claire noticing!

Riding is definitely one of the highlights of Claire’s week. She loves to tell family and friends about her riding, it has been really good for her confidence and self-esteem to take part in something so special. Because of her physical limitations there are lots of things Claire cannot do and riding is her chance to do something within the family that no-one else does.

Shirley Mowberry [Claire’s Mum]