Learning to ride again

I would love to introduce you to the wonderful Elise and her story.

I have been following this inspiration of a lady for a while now and no matter what life faces at her, which is A LOT she is always positive with nothing getting in her way. Enjoy Elise and dave’s story, if you want to find our more check them out here

It all began when I was 4yrs old at primary school, where horse riding was an extra curricular activity. I instantly fell in love, so started taking weekly lessons at a local riding school. I’ve now been riding for 15 yrs and have had my own horses for 4yrs. I’ve always been a natural when it comes to riding so it quickly took over my life, and I love every second spent around the beautiful beasts. I literally live and breathe horses! I’m actually pretty much self-taught as I used to share ponies when I was younger, which meant I couldn’t afford lessons on top of paying for their keep.

I was always known for being able to get on any horse and have it schooling beautifully. Knowing that I was really good at something I was so passionate about gave me the drive to keep improving, and to never give up. Riding is definitely far from easy, but I found it like second nature. My horse, Super Dave, is a young, big bundle of joy! He’s amazing to ride, but is also not for the faint hearted. Let’s just say he can really jump! My disability means my legs are weak (especially my left one), my neck hurts to hold up, I struggle to breathe due to my twisted rib cage, and I suffer from chronic pain. Now combine that with one of the most dangerous sports in the world, and you’ve for a recipe for disaster! However, being as stubborn as I am, I spent almost a whole year relearning to ride my horse.

One of the main issues that affects my overall riding, is the weakness in my left leg.
As my spine is twisted, I already put an uneven pressure on the horse’s back. Over the years, I learnt to deal with this, but now my legs don’t work so well, I always lean to the right. This would always make me very nervous when riding (I’ve never been a nervous rider ever!) as if my horse spooks, I dont have the balance to sit it properly. I also used to lose my stirrup a lot as my leg would wobble about in rising trot. That was very irritating!

Another side effect that changes my riding is the chronic pain I’m in. If I canter for too long, or my horse spooks/misbehaves, I end up jarring my back. This makes me tense up, therefore making my horse even more tense as well. I still struggle with the pain from riding, and it’s something I cant help at all. When it comes to my arms, I tend to cope well with the slight weakness. The only action that it affects is when I sometimes lift my arms up too high, especially when attempting to jump, as I can’t tell, as such, where they are. I just have to make sure I hold one arm further back than the other due to my ribcage being twisted.

During the time when my back first got bad, not being able to ride like I used to was extremely frustrating. This lead to a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Knowing that I can’t physically do something I was so passionate about really took its toll on me. I used to sit on Dave and end up crying after 10 minutes as it was just too painful. I’d even go to say I was scared. Not of Dave, but of getting hurt. I couldn’t even untack him myself after riding, or put any rugs back on.

I’m very lucky to be at a livery yard where I get support, and help putting Dave away when needed. I was also having some saddle problems at that time, which made everything so much harder than it should have been. I was extremely close to  selling him, but I just couldn’t bring myself to actually go through with it. He means too much to me.

Some of the the things I have to do to be able to ride with my disability, most people would see as bad habits. This means I get a constant stream of people criticising my riding. Even when they know about my disability, they still feel the need to belittle me. For this reason, I HATE riding in front of others. I always try to ride when there is no one around to watch me. It also makes me extremely nervous at competitions now, so I’m constantly having to explain my back problems to strangers. Not that they bother to listen though.

Eventually, with a saddle change, I am managing to ride again. Only sporadically as it is still very painful, but when I do ride, I enjoy every second of it. I have even accomplished things with Dave I never thought I’d be able to do ever again. I still get frustrated and upset as I can’t ride much or like I used to. However, I feel we have both made a lot of progress and are now working together very well.

My next goal is to compete in showjumping again. Now this would be the icing on the cake! We are also looking into starting para dressage so we can compete on an even playing field with other disabled riders. We still have lots of work to do, but I’m extremely proud of how far we have come on together with so much against us!

Kind regards,

Elise 🙂 x

You can follow elise using the links provided below.


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