Four years ago, I was a manager with a team of 46 people, working full-time and on-call 24/7. I was also a keen rider with my darling paint horse, Missie. We rode in the evening after work and competed on the weekend, either showing or dressage.
And then it happened. For no apparent reason, I suffered a brain injury resulting in two strokes and the permanent loss of one of my carotid arteries. It soon became apparent that I could no longer do the work I loved and, following a strong recommendation from my neurologist (and family) riding was a no, no. I couldn’t bear to part with Missie, but my riding coach suggested she could be useful for RDA and that’s when my life turned around.
Missie settled into her role performing an essential job looking after all the special children and I could heal without worrying about her. About a year later I was well enough to put my hand up as a volunteer and joined the team at North Shore RDA; this was purely selfish as it meant I could see my horse. Honestly, I thought my reason for joining was because of my love of horses but it soon became obvious that the children were just as important. They have taught me so, so much.
The joy they get from simple pleasures - the touch of a horse’s mane, being able to sit on the horse unaided, the first ever words spoken (to the horse I might add) and the love for these gentle giants. These people rarely feel sorry for themselves; they just get on with it. My disability pales into insignificance and for this I can never repay RDA. My fitness has improved, I’ve made some amazing friends and my entire outlook on life has changed. Without RDA I would be truly disabled.
Volunteer since 2017