Amani enjoying riding
I am 13 years old and took up riding about a year ago. It has been an amazing experience that has given me so much more than I could have imagined. I started off with private lessons, which was the best thing for me at the time as I have many health conditions, all resulting from me being born extremely premature at 23 weeks weighting just 1lb 5oz (600g).
I am severely sight impaired and registered blind. I also suffer from hypermobility syndrome, which causes severe pain in my joints and have Foregut Dysmotility, which means I have very weak core muscles. Quite often, I find it difficult to ride but at the same time it is also the best form of physiotherapy for me because horse riding helps to strengthen my core muscles.
I am always left with chronic pains after horse riding. It is also difficult for me to do many of the physical tasks associated with riding but I do my best and I give it my all. My medical condition has not stopped me from riding and I will not let it stop me. My mother accompanies me each time I visit Lee Valley Riding Centre.
We have always known about Lee Valley Regional Park as we live in the borough of Waltham Forest. Over a year ago, I had never been to the riding centre as I have always suffered from a phobia of animals. So as part of my therapy I was taken there. On one of the visits I explained to a staff member about my phobias and she took me to a horse and talked to me about the animal and her experiences with them and this helped me to overcome some of my fears. I felt very comfortable and safe around the horse and decided to sign up for some private lessons.
I ride every Saturday, either in the morning or the afternoon. This has had a hugely positive impact on my life; I am completely horse crazy. I love riding. It has helped with my phobias towards some animals and given me lots of confidence, something which has always been very difficult given that I’m visually impaired.
Horse riding also helps with my health conditions as it is not only my hobby but has also become a physio programme in itself which helps me strengthen my muscles, something I need to do very regularly. My normal physio programme can be boring and I find it hard to do so horse riding is not only fun but also crucial to my wellbeing.
My mum says that when I’m riding, it’s the happiest she sees me. When I’m on a horse I feel like a different person in a very positive way.
Riding has really changed my life and I could not imagine being without it. The thing I enjoy most about riding is the feeling of being free and mobile, it’s amazing. My family has been very encouraging and have taken an interest in the sport and have had to learn about what it involves. I am the first member of my family to take up horse riding.
They support me in some many ways and always come to watch me ride and are also encouraging me to go further in the sport. Without them I would not have come this far.
My ambition is to compete in high level competitions and one day, I want to become a Paralympian and represent Great Britain on a national level.
Lee Valley Riding Centre has been very supportive from the start. The staff are funny, kind and helpful. They understand my needs and always make sure I am comfortable when I’m riding.
The Centre is a wonderful place that is set in the most amazing surroundings. It caters for all kinds of riders and has a wonderful atmosphere and it is a very good learning environment for anybody who wants to try riding.
Horse riding can benefit people in so many different ways. It’s therapeutic, enjoyable, fun and all ages can take part. I would recommend Lee Valley Riding Centre to anyone with or without disabilities.