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Trainers for physically disabled riders

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  • #81
    Originally posted by Invite View Post
    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!
    ^^^^^^^

    This just sums up my views on focusing on the ABILITY rather than the disability.
    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

    • Original Poster

      #82
      Originally posted by DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho" View Post
      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.

      Excellent point!!!!
      Beth

      Comment


      • #83
        Originally posted by Traum View Post
        Thorncroft Equestrian Center in Malvern PA has just the type of clinics you guys are talking about. I don't know how local they are to many of you but they really do a great job with all types of riders.

        You who've been to Devon may have seen the Mainstreamers, the drill team for kids of all abilities from Thorncroft. It's really a neat place, with room for everyone. There are many clinics offered through the year. The Ransehausen's have cliniced there several times in the last few years.

        Thorncroft.org It's worth a look
        I lesson at Thorncroft. It's inspiring, as is this thread. I have some issues that are disconcerting, but not disabling and am in awe of people who push past much worse things to pursue their passion for horses. Kudos to you all.

        Comment


        • #84
          dressagediosa thank you!

          Dressagediosa,

          Another way for you to learn more about how to teach us is to ask a Physical Therapist with advanced training in orthopedic and neurolgical specialties. If you look for one who is also a horseperson, it makes the translation even easier.

          At the USDF convention last December, Hilary Clayton and Narelle Stubbs gave a presentation on the rider's issues. You could visit them. I also have a super Middleburg PT that I think you would really like, too.

          I'll send you a pm
          Intermediate Riding Skills

          Comment


          • #85
            The Snob Factor

            Just want to add a slightly different point of view:
            I have an auto immune condition that I don't really like talking about. I usually just say "arthritis" to simplify, everyone understands that.

            Riding is actually my physical therapy, it's low impact, helps build muscle, balance, aerobic health, etc. I can generally ride anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, but average an hour every other day.

            I am looked down upon by the "show" people at my barn. They act as if I'm retarded when I fall from an unexpected buck. One person actually said, "You just go around the ring in circles, what good is that?" My response is a blank stare.

            I understand some people don't realize I'm physically limited, I look like a healthy athletic woman. Those who do know probably forget. But it's very frustrating and hurtful when I'm chided for posting in a western saddle, or wear jeans instead of breeches, or that my horse isn't fancy.

            My comfort is a more important factor than looking good. I can get more benefit out of a 30 minute walk than 10 minutes of hard riding. I'm thrilled I'm still walking and not wheelchair bound like I expected to be by this point in my life. I credit horses for that.

            Comment


            • #86
              TikiSoo - these people are morons. So sorry you have to deal with this.
              www.specialhorses.org
              a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

              Comment


              • #87
                Pal O Mine equestrian a very special place

                I hope you don't mind, but I would like to share something about the Pal O Mine program. They're on Long Island and they do incredible things with disabled children. The article is heavily edited. I do not work for them and do not mean for this to be advertising in any way, it's just a story about some horses.


                Everyone’s A Winner
                Everyone’s a winner " Truer words were never spoken. The title is a quote overheard at a recent Pal O Mine horse show for riders with disabilities. One woman commented to a volunteer that "there just isn’t the same tension here as at a regular show" The volunteer responded "that’s because everyone’s a winner. "
                Now after attending a Pal O Mine show. I know it’s true. On Sunday , October 30, I drove to Pal O Mine Equestrian Center in Islandia to pick up two horses and bring them to Paard Hill Farms for the day.
                It’s difficult to put into words how much goes into making one of these shows work. I could start with the volunteers or I could talk about the riders or the people who run Pal O Mine, but I think I’ll start with the horses. After all they are the ones who give us wings to fly when we can’t walk and sight when we are blind. They are the ones that never question their station in life and never cease to give back the love we need.

                On this Sunday 200 people including riders were in attendance for the Pal O Mine horse show. Sixty riders with disabilities competed in dressage, equitation and gymkhana type exercises. Ten horses with the right stuff and the gift of kindness allowed these riders to compete.
                They are not fancy well bred Thoroughbreds or German Warmbloods, but the unsung heroes that do the impossible. They are fearless, steadfast and gentle. They are 1700 pounds and 17 hands high or 14 hands and 800 pounds. They are here to serve and serve they do.
                In the final analysis, when they cross the Rainbow bridge they will be greeted by the likes of Secretariat, Bold Ruler , Ruffian, Alyadar and Spectacular Bid. No doubt , Bold Ruler will humble himself in their presence.
                They will Pass by the right hand of God but their hooves will not ring with the sound of an anvil, their nostrils will not flare and they will not boast of their accomplishments . They will nuzzle each other with a gentle touch and quietly pass by. They have arrived.

                They will sleep in lush pastures and drink from crystal brooks and they will wonder where the children are.

                They will breathe the soft night air and their hooves will tread softly on green moss and they will wonder where the children are.

                Their coats will gleam and their manes will flow in the slightest breeze and they will wonder where the children are.

                Their oats will be poured form a golden chalice and they will never wear a halter and they will wonder where the children are.

                They will wander without fences to roam among the purple hills and they will wonder where the children are.

                And so they will once again pass by the right hand of God and ask, "May we see the children?" And God will say "Yes, you may." So, they will return to the earth and they will be found among the slaughter horses just before the gavel falls. They will be found tied to a tree in a backyard with no food or water. They will be found at a vets with a broken leg. They will be found wandering alone, but what’s important is they will be found and returned to Pal O Mine equestrian center. They will welcome the senior feed and plastic buckets their reward is the work they do and the love they give.
                Their names are not etched in stone and they will not be buried at Claibourne Farm or at the infield at Belmont. The Buddhists call them Bodhisattava, the Christians call them angels; no matter what they are, they have a job to do and they do it well.
                Pal O Mine has given life to those who did not have one, it has brought laughter to children who did not speak. The noble horse has given life to those in need and I believe that from the back of a horse a small child can rule the world.

                As a side note I might mention that during the show one of the parade horse who was there for the ceremony broke away form its rider and careened toward the Pal O Mine horses and riders. People waved their arms and yelled Whoa, but to no avail. Just short of the riders my husband jumped in front of the speeding horse , he veered off bucking and feeling fresh. I looked to see if everything was okay and to my surprise one of the Pal O Mine horses was sleeping in the Autumn sun and another was finishing a qualifying dressage test. The rest were hardly aware that anything was going on. Barely and ear twitched, or tail swished. They are truly the chosen ones.
                RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

                "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #88
                  Originally posted by TikiSoo View Post
                  Just want to add a slightly different point of view:
                  I have an auto immune condition that I don't really like talking about. I usually just say "arthritis" to simplify, everyone understands that.

                  Riding is actually my physical therapy, it's low impact, helps build muscle, balance, aerobic health, etc. I can generally ride anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, but average an hour every other day.

                  I am looked down upon by the "show" people at my barn. They act as if I'm retarded when I fall from an unexpected buck. One person actually said, "You just go around the ring in circles, what good is that?" My response is a blank stare.

                  I understand some people don't realize I'm physically limited, I look like a healthy athletic woman. Those who do know probably forget. But it's very frustrating and hurtful when I'm chided for posting in a western saddle, or wear jeans instead of breeches, or that my horse isn't fancy.

                  My comfort is a more important factor than looking good. I can get more benefit out of a 30 minute walk than 10 minutes of hard riding. I'm thrilled I'm still walking and not wheelchair bound like I expected to be by this point in my life. I credit horses for that.

                  I am so sorry you have been treated that way. I just simplify my disease by saying I have a nerve issue, because if I ever got into the entire thing, people would fall asleep

                  People who treat you so poorly have never dealt with chronic illness, chronic pain or serious injury. If they spent one day in your shoes, they would be in awe at all you accomplish. Many folks lack empathy and tact. Do your best to ignore them and just keep on riding.

                  My snotty, uber rich horse owning neighbors always slow down and stare at me while I'm riding. It's totally obvious, too. My ring is rather far from the road, so they slow to a complete crawl. I kind of hope they just think they always catch me during walk breaks!

                  Just to make you feel a little better, I currently do all of my riding (walk only) in a round pen. I cannot mount or dismount by myself. And worst of all, yesterday I was sweaty, got stuck while removing my sports bra and had to call to my mom for rescue!!! That might be a little too much information, but I thought it might give you a smile My neurologist told me to just keep riding as long as I can and that is my plan.
                  Beth

                  Comment


                  • #89
                    Eventer55 - this is why Special Horses not only fundraises for rescues, but for therapeutic riding and Hippotherapy facilities as well. They go hand in hand. Equines that may not be considered "adoptable" by many may be perfect for these organizations. And many who participate in these programs can't afford them, and these programs are not always government funded.

                    Not every horse can do this. But I think they all have something to offer and teach - but then, we all have different lessons to learn as well. Which is why I am dismayed by what Invite and TikiSoo have posted - you know, it's not always about the ribbons.

                    (ssshhhhhh....as a card-carrying certified "Ribbon 'Ho" I'm not supposed to say that!!!)
                    www.specialhorses.org
                    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

                    Comment


                    • #90
                      TikiSoo, those folks ARE ignorant... but they are ignorant as to the GIFT that horses are. They certainly may ride and enjoy their horses, but honestly, they do not see or feel what we see and feel when WE interact with horses.

                      I'm not usually at a loss for words, But often am when it comes to explaining to people how horses touch us. It's because they touch us in a place beyond words. Words aren't needed. I love dogs, I love cats, but I could sooner stop breathing than not have horses in my life... and to see the amazing and sometimes miraclous things the horses can do with people... it is incredibly humbling.

                      Some of my most profound experiences with horses and special students has been with sexually and physically abused students. In an hour and a half session we may ride ten or fifteen minutes--their choice, more if they want--but generally it is the interaction that is so incredible. A couple will forever haunt me.

                      Physically, the motions of the horse are gentle and mimic the motions of walking. The rhythm and motion stimulate the thyroid somewhat. (I have a cite for that somewhere) The touch/pressure/warmth boost seratonin and other hormones. There are major and more subliminal physical positives.

                      And *we* know that, and appreciate it. To me, it's like when everyone's driving down the road, and there's a ginormous rainbow, and most folks don't even notice it, not to mention see it and enjoy it. Me, I pull over when I can. Because it's something to treasure. For me, it's the same. I am so moved and humbled (as a "teacher" ) by the equine teachers. Their generosity, kindness and wisdom blow me away. What a blessing to KNOW that and revel in it.

                      My neurologist told me to just keep riding as long as I can and that is my plan.
                      I like your neurologist.
                      InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

                      Comment


                      • #91
                        Maybe this is the right place to post this. Kind of voodoo, kind of zen, maybe nutso crazy.

                        Last night, I went to my first yoga class to help me breathe better and become more supple. The instructor told the class to "honor their unique bodies and spirits." And I have to tell you, with the exception of one of the participants' 13 year old daughter, none of those bodies (including mine) was anything to write home about. But it got me to thinking - way back, I did tae kwon do, and you would always bow to your sparring partner to show respect. And I thought - if you honor your adversary - shouldn't you honor your partner? even more so than your opponent?

                        So, when I went to the barn, I took that concept with me - that I was honoring who my horse is, and what he gives to me. And it truly made the evening that much more special.
                        www.specialhorses.org
                        a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

                        Comment


                        • #92
                          Kind of voodoo, kind of zen, maybe nutso crazy
                          Zen maybe, not nuts.

                          At least in my world.
                          InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

                          Comment


                          • #93
                            Great post, Invite! Thanks for sharing it.

                            Hey TikiSoo, I was recently at the R1 Adult Team Championships, and some riders at T-shirts that read "I (heart) watching people ride around in circles." I really wanted one! Maybe we could get some made.
                            spriesersporthorse.com | farm on Facebook | me on Facebook | blog

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #94
                              We all need one of those tee shirts! They would suit many of us
                              Beth

                              Comment


                              • #95
                                I am a Para rider. I have a Syrinx due to a car accident almost 6 years ago. I loast a lot of use of my left arm so I use a loop attached to the rein. I also have no feeling in my feet, but I can still use them. I have had to adapt and change. I knew how to do everything up to Gand Prix before my accident, now I just change it slightly in how I ask.

                                In looking for a coach, you want to find one that will work with you. You want someone that will adapt to finding new ways in using the aids. Core strength is your friend. I have a ground person that works with me once a week and my coach when I can afford her.
                                Frogs in a Basket. Oh, one jumped out.
                                EC Level 1 Coach, ARIA Level 3 Dressage Coach
                                www.dressagelife.com
                                http://piaffing.blogspot.com/

                                Comment


                                • #96
                                  Piaffing Please tell us more

                                  Piaffing,

                                  Please will you tell us more? what is a syrinx? How do you use the loop on the rein? I was thinking about putting both reins in one hand. Anyone tried it? The spanish riding school has that solo ride of the head rider where he holds all the reins in one hand and a willow branch straight up like a sword in the other hand.

                                  How do you change your cues? How do you keep your feet in the stirrups?You can pass on whatever has worked for you and we will be sooo grateful!

                                  how did you find your instructor? What special training makes a difference? we would like to find whoever is considered among the best and then ask them to clinic or symposium.

                                  Thanks for sharing with us!
                                  Intermediate Riding Skills

                                  Comment


                                  • #97
                                    varies considerably

                                    excellent description! now, where do we find all that? Sally Swift spent a lot of time at Thorncroft one fall, when I was her "apprentice; levels varied considerably in both hoses and riders, though , I believe there is one rider/ trainer/ ParaOlympian there who, is a dressage judge and Centered Riding instructor, and paraOlympian; of course she keeps her own horses at her farm in N. C. where, she has an indoor arena and rides several horses each day
                                    breeder of Mercury!

                                    remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans

                                    Comment


                                    • #98
                                      You have a support system!

                                      It's called NARHA. Go to NARHA.org and you can get the names of Registered or Master NARHA Certified Instructor in your area. We are trained to help you and NARHA has high safety standards. Two instructos who come to mind in your area are Mandy Hogan at Windrush Farm in Boxford, Ma and Isabella (Boo) MacDaniel at Pony Farm in Temple, NH. Both farms offer able and other abled riding instruction. Both have excellent horses and facilities and both are NARHA Premier Centers. Both of these ladies are NARHA Master Instructors and have had scads of personal show and training experience. I know both of them personally and can give each an excellent recommendation. Mandy works with Marge Kittridge, who I believe helped start the para Olympics. Feel free to PM me if you have questions, want more information or want my name as an intro (although they will welcome you without it).
                                      Mandy Hogan www.windrushfarm.org or (978) 682-7855
                                      Isabella (Boo) MacDaniel www.ponyfarm.com or (603) 654-6308
                                      I understand the bra thing as I have two frozen shoulders, a bad hip and am putting off knee replacement. The knee could be fixed but I have run out of options with the shoulders. I can only mount with a mounting block and am stiff as a board but my riding is my sanity so I understand that too.
                                      Good luck. Call one of these super nice people and find some solid lessons and support.
                                      Piney Woods

                                      Comment


                                      • #99
                                        Originally posted by whicker View Post
                                        Piaffing,
                                        How do you change your cues? How do you keep your feet in the stirrups?
                                        Not directed to me, but you bring up another interesting point, I had forgotten all about. Almost all the cues I have taught my horse are "unique" to us based on my ability or lack of.
                                        Teaching voice cues by lunging has helped tremendously. Once I'm "on board" I reinforce the voice cue with a particular leg position or movement and most times she's understood.

                                        I have very little strength with my legs, so many cues are shifting weight or leg position: right leg forward, left leg behind to circle to the left....normal. But if I want to canter, I jiggle my left foot.

                                        My last pony, the "canter" cue was taking up a little strand of mane at the wither. The problem with "custom cues" is that you can never sell your horse!

                                        Comment


                                        • Originally posted by Invite View Post
                                          I am so sorry you have been treated that way. I just simplify my disease by saying I have a nerve issue, because if I ever got into the entire thing, people would fall asleep

                                          People who treat you so poorly have never dealt with chronic illness, chronic pain or serious injury. If they spent one day in your shoes, they would be in awe at all you accomplish. Many folks lack empathy and tact. Do your best to ignore them and just keep on riding.

                                          My snotty, uber rich horse owning neighbors always slow down and stare at me while I'm riding. It's totally obvious, too. My ring is rather far from the road, so they slow to a complete crawl. I kind of hope they just think they always catch me during walk breaks!
                                          This is so true. I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is not something I'm going to try and explain to every passerby either. And I look normal, so people do have a hard time understanding why I can't do all the things that they do sometimes. I love the letter to Ann Landers written by someone who'd had back and knee surgeries, but looked to be healthy. One day when she used her parking placard in a handicapped space, a man approached her and said, "You certainly don't look handicapped to me. You should not be parking in that space." She replied, "And you, sir, look intelligent, but I guess looks can be deceiving."

                                          "The Spoon Theory" by Christine Miserandino is a good short story that's worth reading, if you haven't already. http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/the_spoon_theory/


                                          Thankfully my co-boarders are really nice people, and they pretty much just accept my weird habits. Like all the walking. I do that, too. Both for me and my horse. Since I'm usually achey, and she's a little sensitive and tense, we always walk around in hand for a while before I get on. And then we have an incredibly long walk warm-up. There have been times that people have come in and completed their whole ride within my walk warm-up

                                          And I fall off my horse more than anyone else I know. My joints are very flexible, but unstable, and I have decreased proprioception. Luckily, I can feel where my appendages are, it's just sort of sloppy and imprecise. Fortunately the people at my stable who have seen me fall have always been very kind, and not insulting.
                                          "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                                          -Edward Hoagland

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