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Riding and Royalty

I’m Stefanie and I live in a gorgeous house, enabled by ubu to live my life as independently as possible. Since I was a young girl I’ve always loved animals, especially horses. I talked to my ubu enabling team about how much I love of horses and with their help, I researched and found a riding group in Lincolnshire called Riding Disabilities Association at Lincolnshire Riding Activity Centre.

It turned out to be a great place and I join a the group of other people there every Wednesday morning and it’s become my favourite day of the week. Before we set off, I check that I take everything I need with me - my riding hat, gloves and my coat as well as my Riding Disabilities Association kit. I know that it’s very important that I take all these things when I go to my riding group as it would not be safe without them.

I am unable to ride on the back of a horse but at the centre they have horse-drawn carriages. It means that I can get the same amazing feeling that people tell me you get from riding a horse, but from the safety of a carriage. I use a step to climb into the carriage and then from there I take control of the horse. I know now how to properly hold the reins so I can drive the carriage. The activity centre also has an inside arena with cones and poles that are set up so I can drive the horse and carriage around obstacles. It’s not as easy as you might think! Each week I get better and better. When the weather is good I can also go outside and drive the carriage around the woods and down the track.

I have become much more confident and positive since I started going to the riding group and have made lots of new friends. There’s always plenty of time to catch up with my friends while I’m waiting for my horse is being made ready for me. Meeting other people who find it difficult to do some things without help from other people, makes me feel more comfortable and less stressed when I’m around with my new friends.

I’ve learnt what to say to my horse so that he understands what I want him to do. If I say ““woah” , he will stop and when I want Danny to move forward I say, ”Danny walk on”. If I want Danny to go faster I say “trot on”.

The best part of this experience is that I am learning so much every time I go to the centre. I’ve decided that I want to take a qualification in horse management, I am going to be working towards my Grade One. I will learn all about the different parts of the horse, the grooming kit and what each bit of tack is there to do and how to look after the horse. I’m learning about mucking out the stables and how to feed the horses. There is so much to learn, but I’m loving it! With the support of my ubu enabling team I have made a plan of how to achieve my goal of getting my first qualification. I’m really looking forward to all the things I will be able to do in the future.

Last month, I was part of a great event at the centre when Princess Ann came to visit us. She was there to honour and present rosettes to all the people who give their time and energy to people who come to the centre. I was so lucky to be asked to help Princess Ann hand out the rosettes! I held the basket with them in for her to give to each of the volunteers. Because she is part of the Royal family we were told what to call her before she arrived. We were asked to call her “Maam” which felt a bit strange at first but also a bit exciting too. It was a very special day that I will always remember.

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