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Trainers for physically disabled riders

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  • #61
    The trainers and clinicians I mentioned before have able-bodied students too, and I believe Trip Harting may have still been competing during that time, as well (summer 1995). One thing though; I think it's important to avoid using "real" as a descriptor when you mean USDF-recognized, or an open show-- everyone on this thread is a real person, and to imply that some things are "better" than others is just not a good idea in this context.

    the ACORD shows were some of the ones I mentioned as well-- good times. I think my favorite part of the concept was the level of competiton, and the fact that *every* judge I rode in front of was USDF licensed with years of "open" judging experience... I always found my scores very fairly given. Doing eastern nationals at 16 with a 5yr old home-raised horse rising against Team members who regularly show open 3rd/4th or higher was an absolute blast.

    I may have made the short list in 1996 but for an untimely spinal fracture. That was when you could still borrow horses for international competiton... I sincerely doubt I'll ever be in that position again, given that those even long-listed now have people shopping in Europe for exquisite horses, never mind the cost of horse travel, etc.... but it was one of the defining periods of my riding, being on equal footing with multi-time Paralympians as a teenager with a Morgan I raised and trained.

    As for finding a trainer, I second the idea of talking to your local GMO-- in my experience, many if not umost, trainers actually enjoy the challenge of helping their riders "think outside the box" to accomplish their goals.

    Comment


    • #62
      given that those even long-listed now have people shopping in Europe for exquisite horses, never mind the cost of horse travel, etc..
      That makes me sad. It makes the playing field as unlevel as it is for the blue collar owner-ammy, if not worse.

      I can't be the only one breeding specifically for this market, can I?

      I started breeding my own when I found it nearly impossible to get a "therapeutic" horse that was also competitive. Those types are few and far between. Lots of folks want to donate horses that are incredibly kind and good natured, but not-so-much dressage horses, and often unsound. It's hard to explain that I can't afford a high maintenence horse--special shoes or expensive joint supps or shots--because the work itself is volunteer. Then you're seen as ungrateful... But the work is also very demanding on the horses. They are often more tired after a half hour or 45 minute lesson than they are after a vigorous schooling with me--I truly think it is because it is mental as well as physical for them. They are SO attentive. And it is harder physically for them with riders who may not be balanced well, or have fine motor skill issues.

      My students range from physical disabilities to emotional. So the horse has to be able to put up with the Special Olympics type stuff--wheelchair ramps, spastic motions, motor skill issues... but for my other students, the need to be able to show and be competitive. And then I also need to be able to sell foals to keep *me* in horses to be able to do it. They have to have gaits that are rideable, and yet still competitive.

      It can be done. I can't be the only one doing it. Maybe that's part of the equation too, is networking breeders who have suitable mounts to use, donate, lease, etc.
      InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

      Comment


      • #63
        Originally posted by pintopiaffe View Post
        I can't be the only one breeding specifically for this market, can I?
        My goal is to breed horses that have "professional" gaits but are kind enough for a competively-minded amateur to ride. That would probably include a disabled rider, as I have come to learn that the horses can be trained to respond to all kinds of non-traditional aids.

        I know that most of the folks who are disabled riders aren't aiming for the Para-Olympics, but if one is, you DO need a horse that's the blend of extraordinary gaits and temperament.

        If there's any silver lining in my "cloud" it's that I have a pretty special mare that I've owned since before she was age 3. We had a wonderful relationship together long before I was injured. While I was out of the saddle for 18 months, she had excellent training through all of the Grand Prix movements. For the Grade IV tests, while they are equivalent to the US Third/Fourth levels, the horse needs to be in FEI self-carriage. Many of the para-riders I've met at the Ransehousens are competing successfully in open classes at PSG. I will be showing my mare at open Fourth level in a few weeks and we will see how that goes!

        And maybe I am breeding the next generation of Para warmbloods. I have just started riding my 3 year old Ruffian x Axiom filly and she seems to be catching on just fine to what I am asking her. I use the whip to back up my left leg aids just as I do my FEI mare. So far, so good!
        GoodNess Ridge Farm
        www.goodnessridge.com

        Comment


        • #64
          it's great to hear that future Paralympic equestrians will likely be able to find a suitable horse within the US.... it really *isn't* fair that this whole thing has seemingly become even harder than making the Olympic team.... or maybe that was the point, to make it "equally" hard and therefore somehow more fair?? Grr, I hope not.
          Last edited by KLS; Aug. 10, 2009, 07:51 PM. Reason: clarification

          Comment


          • #65
            srg, that is awesome. She's such a cool mare.

            And some of it isn't all that different from driving or sidesaddle. Some of course is.

            KLS, I know what you're trying to say... It's frustrating enough to just be competitive when you are an average joe, the way dressage gets more and more exclusive. But top that off with perhaps not *even* being able to work 40 hrs (or 50 or 60) because of a disability or illness... it just seems more out of reach. Doesn't mean you have one iota less passion for dressage though.
            InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

            Comment


            • #66
              That's why I think there really needs to be some better way to network. Judging from what I know of my own trainer's ex TH students - some stay in the saddle, some not. Some are unable to drive themselves, and, as family situations change as they get older, the opportunity isn't there for them. One of her students - and I've mentioned him before - has been a working student during the summers and is now a working student for the year (he's 25, and wants to make this his life vocation). He himself teaches both disabled and able bodied students.

              This thread (and, of course, talking with EAW) has made me realize there is a gap - for adults who "move on and upwards" from TH, and wish to ride and compete as adults, but also for adults who enter this arena when older. They are even less "linked into" the system - what there is of the system. I think pintopiaffe and srg have absolutely the right idea! But this needs to be marketed appropriately (NOT that I am a marketing guru!!).

              I know that EAW has discussed having a forum on her site since this is a topic very near and dear to her heart. And I already told her, there's no reason why we can't fundraise in the same way (she'll be 501(c)3 there as well). We need input to be responsive, and I (and others) need educating.

              I am still brewing over how to make a clinic/camp happen - where people can showcase their horses (as for pp and srg), discuss with saddle etc manufacturers needs for specific disabilities, possibly even a judges' forum? to make the move between para and non para events more seamless, feedback from clinicians, and a chance to mingle and network. SO much could be done. (In grandiose moments I even think of something like this being a satellite event at a place like Rolex...)
              www.specialhorses.org
              a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

              Comment


              • #67
                I think some of this is or has been done -- I'm not really connected with it any more but I try to pay attention when I hear about things happening here in the midwest, and I know there have been several developing rider clinics at Lamplight with educational forums for coaches and trainers. How accessible they are to people who aren't yet at the top of the game - I don't know. How to reach coaches and instructors who don't yet know they want to teach riders with disabilities -- that's the question. I'd think that getting a breakout session at the USDF convention would be a good place to start. Regional USDF meetings or continuing education? I know our GMO has offered the L judge series and instructor certification - piggyback on that somehow? add a half day with a big name like the Ransenhausens? Until people have decided they really WANT to do this, you need to catch them at something they woudl already be interested in going to -- then once they're hooked they'll make the effort to go to something dedicated to the topic.

                And for the person who said they've recently taken a student with some MS-type issues and wanted to learn more: you'll learn the most by communicating well with YOUR student and being able to think outside the box and try different things until something works. And network, network, network. And stay open to the thought that what works now might not work in 6 months! If you can keep it in your head that the rider is the expert on their body and you are taking the role of expert on riding and the horse, they can teach you about themselves and you can teach them about riding and everyone comes out of it knowing more than they started with.

                Comment


                • #68
                  ...finally making my way over here....

                  I am not a Dressage rider so I have little or no input in areas of Dressage, so please excuse me if I ask stupid questions I'm sure Geek will fill me in on some things too

                  But anyway, I am reading through and feeling more confident everyday that what we are building is the RIGHT thing to build. I have a different perspective than many people with programs because not only do I have MS and secondary autoimmune issues, I also have an autistic child. While she is high functioning, TR was definitely the way to go with her and I am glad I listened to my inner voices and experiences in holding off until she was older and found the right program. Today she a person that I never thought she would be

                  Last night on the news there was a clip about special needs kids learning to ride bikes at a university sponsored program. The specifics escape me and I apologize for that. Anyway, the mother of one of the participants ( a young teen boy with Downs Syndrome) said "he in programs to teach him life skills like doing the laundry and the dishes. I want him to learn to live, there is so much more to life than doing laundry and dishes." And when I heard her say that I literally burst into tears because she summed up what I have been working towards for the past three years in building this program.

                  There are life skills and there is LIVING. If you can find things in your life that give you joy then they most always have some associated physical and psychological benefit. Riding a horse is like riding a bike. Is it a skill that will define your life? Not always, but is something that gives you WINGS. It gives you an escape and builds a strong partnership between yourself and a creature capable of great understanding, cooperation and most of all...love. It builds trust, respect and self esteem. It goes so far beyond the actual ride.

                  Our program (and I am SO grateful to have Geeks help as part of our BOD) is a life skills program in addition to an equine therapy program. Our younger participants will start from the ground up...they will learn the basic safety and care issues related to equine before they ride. They will go on to learn basic stable management and other life skills. We do hope to turn out some really great riders too! We hope that our "graduates" will leave us and be employable to farms, community groups, and sheltered workshop facilities. Basically, we want to help them to not only achieve life skills...but to achieve a life they enjoy living!

                  For adults, we will be offering a program to help them come to terms with disability, abuse, rehab and PTS and will also be working with Hospice. I was saddened to find out that many people, young and old, have no place to go when it comes to giving joy, building trust or making a very simple last wish come true. If we can give someone the peace and joy that comes from stroking a soft muzzle or burying their head in the neck of a gentle horse...well...then my life is indeed blessed.

                  Expanding to include competitive events, focused trainings, clinics and things of that nature was a "someday". But if there is interest (and from the looks of this thread I say there is!) then I think it is something that we are going to look closely at!

                  And now that you know a little bit more about what is going on, can I bug everyone for some thoughts on a name? lol! I am completely unable to wrap my head around anything! UGH!
                  I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                  Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    I don't know if she does a lot with disabled riders, but I used to take lessons with Carol Popp in CT. She has some very well trained schoolmasters, including 2 Lipizzan stallions. She's probably the most classical trainer I've worked with. The only reason I don't ride with her anymore is that I've moved, and the 6 hour drive both ways is a bit much.

                    I have a cracked L5 vertebra, with sciatica down my left leg and numbness in both my feet. Up until it became too painful for me to continue riding, she was very helpful.

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Pam Lane at the USEF is the contact person for the para-equestrian activities. Since I've been classified as a para-rider, I am getting regular emails and updates regarding clinics on the east and west coast as well as in the midwest.

                      Frequently the clinics are geared towards introducing disabled riders to para competitions and have Classifiers (physical therapists) there to determine whether you meet the physical criteria to be Graded. I have found Pam to be infinitely patient and generous with her time in helping me understand how I could get a dispensation to ride in Open classes--this is a possibility even for those riders not classified as para riders.

                      There is a training session in California in September and there was just one recently at Gladstone, NJ. You can reach Pam Lane at plane@usef.org or at 908.326.1153
                      GoodNess Ridge Farm
                      www.goodnessridge.com

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        eaw... you just said what I was thinking... "Wings." From the "Horses give us wings to fly" quote... I've been thinking that all along. I don't think it *has* to be an acronym...
                        Last edited by pintopiaffe; Aug. 11, 2009, 11:08 PM. Reason: speelink
                        InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                        Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          one of my favorite quotes is a t-shirt caption: "borrrowed freedom," with a graphic that depicts the handicapped parking symbol morphing in 3 or 4 comic-type panels, into the outline of someone on a horse.

                          (the full quote is "in riding a horse, we borrow freedom", attributed as best I can tell to a Helen Thomson).

                          Maybe we can compile a list of quotes and other concepts (like Wings) with which to help name this project.
                          Last edited by KLS; Aug. 12, 2009, 03:44 PM. Reason: spelling

                          Comment


                          • #73
                            Originally posted by KLS View Post
                            one of my favorite quotes is on a t-shirt captions: "borrrowed freedom," with a graphic that depicts the handicapped parking symbol morphing in 3 or 4 comic-type panels, into the outline of someone on a horse.

                            (the full quote is "in riding a horse, we borrow freedom", attributed as best I can tell to a Helen Thomson).

                            Maybe we can compile a list of quotes and other concepts (like Wings) with which to help name this project.
                            KLS...I think we have a winner. I LOVE this. It is absolutely perfect. My DD loves, my husband loves it and I also use it here at our farm, as in Borrowed Freedom Farm, for the programs we offer here. I think this is it...I can picture the logo, I can picture the sub-programs like SPROUTS (thanks Chocomare!) and Carrots, and WINGS! Which I love too PintoPiaffe.

                            I know Geek will like it too So will our other partners. I think we have it, and it is perfect timing too. We are meeting with our potential host facility tonight after work!
                            I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                            Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

                            Comment


                            • #74
                              Yes I DO like it!! See? I TOLD you to come on over here!! Plenty of fodder as you get the programs up and running...Lori T needs to come as well, as she gets her program going.

                              Now we can start networking!!
                              www.specialhorses.org
                              a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                Happy to help get somethng uber-cool on its way! Make sure to keep us updated.

                                If you google the quote and use Google Images, you'll get some great results to help with defining logos, promo materials, etc. (That's what I had to do to find the proper spellling for the attribution, and I just wandered through some of the results while I was there).

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #76
                                  some ideas!

                                  Originally posted by dressagediosa View Post
                                  This is a really timely conversation, as I've just started teaching a young woman with some MS-related issues. So here's another question - where should a professional interested in learning more about coaching disabled riders look? I've got several friends who ride with Missy and Jessica, and I've done a little coaching of riders with different physical issues, but I've never had any formal training in it.

                                  I want to be the best coach I can for this young lady, and for any others that might come my way, but not sure where to turn. Any pros out there have some thoughts? TIA!

                                  And good on all of you for keeping in the saddle!
                                  I cannot tell you where to learn more about teaching the disabled. I am not a pro, but I may be of some help. I have neuropathy which may be a result of primary progressive MS...long story and of no importance here.

                                  Here is what I look for in a trainer:
                                  -I want someone who is not unapproachable, but is a "high end" trainer. I have the desire to learn just as much as an able bodied rider.

                                  -If you have a good school horse, offer lunge lessons. I have issues with my legs and left arm/hand. Good lunge lessons help people with their seats. This is of huge importance when a rider has leg weakness and or numbness. If you have your seat, you can do a lot.

                                  -If you have a good schoolmaster, teach your student how to "push the buttons" to get the movements. You may have to be very hands on and place the student's legs where they need to be. Help the student find methods to get her legs where they need to go to "push the buttons".

                                  -I think each disabled student is different and will require you to change your teaching style. Sometimes, you may just have to improvise.

                                  -Understand that if you are telling the student to use more inside rein and outside leg, but there is no difference, it is not because the student is not listening or trying, it is because the rider might not be able do it.

                                  -Remember the para/disabled student is a tenacious person who is fighting the odds for the love of riding. While the student might not progress as quickly as other students, take into account that your para student is just as, if not more, dedicated to riding. We face pain and frustration just to get around on our legs.

                                  -If your area offers para shows, be willing to go and coach your student if needed.

                                  -Empathize, but don't coddle.

                                  -If you do have a schoolmaster, provide a comfortable saddle and a bucking/grab strap.

                                  It sounds as though you are willing to work with para type riders. I commend you for that. I can see where it would be frustrating in some instances, but people who are willing to ride through pain and lack of movement are indeed serious riders. If you are truly interested in teaching riders of all types, you will be a great asset to the dressage community.

                                  I hope my rambling on was of some help to you. Best of luck!
                                  Beth

                                  Comment


                                  • #77
                                    Invite - not rambling. What you said is true for all serious riders. It should be a mantra.
                                    www.specialhorses.org
                                    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

                                    Comment


                                    • #78
                                      well said, Invite!

                                      Comment


                                      • #79
                                        Amen Invite! I've had trainers on both ends of the spectrum, when I was a junior I had those who were too afraid to let me do anything, and as a result I got really frusterated. Then, the trainer prior to the one I have right now, which prompted my switch from hunters to dressage, thought my communicating my need to take things slow with a horse that was new to me was back talk and disrespectful to her. Her words to me were "I don't understand why you are doing this". With my Cerebal Palsy I was lucky to compete at 2'6, I never would have made to the AAs or the AOs, but I just love to ride. I also love to show, I'm a sucker for the all the tradition and pomp and I enjoy the challege, even if I am not competing at the upper eccelsons. I am really lucky in my current trainer, in that she gets that I like to pushed, but she also listens to me when I tell her something isn't working for me. She also gets that even though Werther can do I-1, she doesn't think he is "wasted" on me doing training level, I really feel my old trainer felt my horse was wasted on me, because Werther is a talented jumper, and I couldn't ride up to his level so to speak.
                                        Ellie and Werther Blog

                                        Comment


                                        • #80
                                          I think the best is when you have a trainer that doesn't focus on what you can't do, but helps you explore all the things that you could do.
                                          www.specialhorses.org
                                          a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

                                          Comment

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