bbc.co.uk
Home
Explore the BBC
You and Yours - Transcript
BBC Radio 4
Print This Page
TX: 25.11.09 - Disabled Riding

PRESENTER: WINIFRED ROBINSON
Downloaded from www.bbc.co.uk/radio4
THE ATTACHED TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT. BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY.


ROBINSON
The charity Riding for the Disabled helps people go riding because the experience can be good for you - mentally and physically. Many of the British Paralympic Equestrian team started riding with them. As part of our series on leisure activities for people with disabilities our reporter Henrietta Harrison headed off to Lowlands Farm in Shrewley in Warwickshire to speak to an aspiring competitor and to watch a class in action.

ACTUALITY
Hi everybody. How are you? Nice to see you.

KAREN
So the children have arrived and they're just going to put on their hats and their boots and once their equipment's on we can start to think about getting them on the ponies.

ACTUALITY
Come on Mary, good girl. Good boy. That's it. Now can you remember how to get on? That's it. Good boy. And your foot in the stirrup. Okay ready - three, two, one. Good boy. You're on.

KAREN
My name's Karen and I'm group instructor at the Centre of England group. So today we have a group of children from the local Springfield school who come along for a riding session with us, once a week, during term time.

ACTUALITY
Is that good up there?

Yes.

And what do we say to Mary?

Walk on Mary.

Good boy. Walk on Mary.

Walk on Mary.

Good boy.

For me riding really operates at several different levels. Obviously we're looking to introduce the children to riding skills and to give them physical exercise but also for these children who have behavioural and learning difficulties it's also trying to help them with social skills, team work, they're interacting with the helpers here and getting to know animals and the horses - learning empathy and really being kind to the horses.

As they're all riding round now they're obviously doing similar sort of activities but the challenge for me is to look at them as individuals as to how they're getting on. So, for example, Sam has difficulty with his concentration so it's thinking of ways of keeping things interesting for him and relying on the helpers that are with him to encourage him in the right way and keep him inspired. And then you get the children who are a lot more natural.

ACTUALITY
I'm very confident.

You're very confident - okay, well hang on a minute, let's hold your reign on the saddle so you've got control of the pony first. Foot into the stirrup - good girl.

Wait - three, two one.

Over we go.

See I did that on my own.

You did it entirely on your own.

I did it on my own, nobody holded me.

Good girl. Nice and quiet.

HARRISON
Who else do you teach and what are the benefits there?

KAREN
I teach at another group which is predominantly people with both learning difficulties and physical disablement, such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Down's syndrome. The challenges there, for me as an instructor are slightly different in that you're looking at it from a physical therapy point of view. Certainly for some of the cerebral palsy riders that we have the motion of the horse seems to be so therapeutic for them in terms of their muscle relaxation. And a couple of the riders that we have are in a wheelchair unless they ride and the difference once they finish riding and get off in their looseness and their ability to be able to walk a very short distance is amazing. And yeah I do believe that it should be available on the NHS - therapeutic horse riding - no I really do, I think it's got a lot to offer.

DARGY
I'm Charlie Dargy [phon.] and I'm an RDA rider.

HARRISON
At what level do you ride at now?

DARGY
National level, I'm working towards international.

HARRISON
To someone that doesn't know anything about riding, can you just explain the sort of riding that you do?

DARGY
I do dressage, which is one of the toughest disciplines in riding. The grades are one to five and five being the least disabled and one being the most disabled. I'm a grade two and I only compete against other grade twos to keep it fair.

HARRISON
Tell me what is your disability.

DARGY
My disability is sacral agenesis, it's very similar to spina bifida, apart from I have the lower part of my spine missing rather than a hole in my spine.

HARRISON
So tell me how has riding helped you.

DARGY
I have very weak muscle - well I have little muscle in the bottom of my legs, I don't have any calf muscles, the top of my legs is what keeps me going. So to keep that strong and to keep my core muscles strong, to keep me standing is very important and riding actually helps strengthen them without putting too much weight through my legs.

ACTUALITY
So we're going to walk on round the school and we're going to go a little bit faster into - what's it called again?

Trotting.

Trotting. Alright. Good boy. Oh fantastic.

That was brilliant.

Yeah but my back hurted a bit. It was really bumpy. I didn't realise - I was squashed like a tomato.

PUDDEN
I'm Row Pudden [Phon.] and I've been here for about 25 years now.

ACTUALITY
Let's see your dogs.

My dogs are in the house at the moment.

Oh.

Sorry about that.

HARRISON
That's okay.

PUDDEN
And I've been doing riding for disabled for about 35 years now.

HARRISON
You have some people that come to the stables who have really severe disabilities, can you explain how they manage to ride if they have no strength in their arms or their legs?

PUDDEN
Good question, because I have now got a little girl who's come to me with no arms and no legs. She had meningitis, I think, when she was five. But this child, I've had her since June, so she's only been riding sort of five, six months, comes two, three times a week and she's riding on her own now and trotting on her own.

HARRISON
But how does she encourage the horse to take a left or a right or ...?

PUDDEN
Well in spite of what people think horse riding is mostly body movement and your legs are a bonus but the movement of your body keeps the horse going. And also if you think about it you don't turn a corner with your arms yourself, so you don't do it actually on the back of a horse, you turn corners with your body and that's the same thing - so she turns corners, circles - she's learning circles and shapes now with her body.

HARRISON
How are you getting on?

PUPIL
I love it, and I love this pony.

HARRISON
Why do you love this pony?

PUPIL
Because he's cute, he's big and he doesn't go fast and he's the best pony.

HARRISON
He's looking after you?

PUPIL
Yes he's looking after me.

HARRISON
Do you think there's something special about the relationship between people and horses that can enhance therapy?

PUDDEN
I don't know. Some horses seem to sense - not every horse sense the disabled rider but a lot of them do and there is a certain sort of sympathy between riders and - disabled riders and horses that I have never fathomed, I don't think any of us can, it's an instinct that they have that we don't know enough about.

HARRISON
But you've witnessed it?

PUDDEN
Oh I've witnessed it many times, yes, yes, I mean I've had sort of horses who is prone to perhaps shying or something like that, they don't do it and they don't seem to sort of say no I won't, they say okay I will. So they know, they know.

HARRISON
It's extraordinary isn't it.

PUDDEN
It is, it's very strange, very strange, beyond my comprehension.

ACTUALITY
Fantastic Lewis, well done. And let's all get ready to stop and walk, say walk. Well done Oliver. Good boy Sam. Today, you've all really well. I want you to say a big thank you to your ponies and a thank you to your helpers.

ROBINSON
And Riding for the Disabled is 40 years old this year. Later on in the programme we're going to be hearing from Princess Anne, who's been a patron since 1971.



Back to the You and Yours homepage

The BBC is not responsible for external websites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy