RIDER STORY ANNE-MAREE NEAL
26 years ago I was a young mum on the run when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Ten days later before I had the opportunity to tell him, my father passed away. As you can imagine, this was a very harrowing time for me and my family. Since then I have struggled with physical limitations as well as significant challenges to my mental health. In 2015 I spent 11 weeks in a mental health facility and when I came home I decided to challenge myself to take part in activities that were completely out of my comfort zone. Horse riding was one of these and that is how I became involved in RDA Tall Timbers. I have a weekly private lesson with our fantastic coach Sophie and horse Shiraz as well as a session on RDA’s mechanical horse Mac.
From the very first day at RDA TT I felt warmth and kindness from staff and volunteers. When you have a disability you can often experience a sense of being on the outside, of not belonging but at TT I have felt nothing but a sense of belonging, of being included and valued.
The benefits I have received from being a client firstly is that I am still on my feet. Physically it has improved my core strength, balance and posture as well as maintained my muscle tone and cardio fitness. My self-esteem and confidence have grown while developing a bond with my sweet horse Shiraz. I have made many friendships and now participate in more community activities.
Being a client at RDA TT I have had the opportunity of observing and experiencing the way it includes people and values the principles of access and equity as well as diversity and participation. I am one of many that enjoy equine therapy in a safe and fun environment. All of this has made me want to contribute to the organisation. A person diagnosed with multiple sclerosis has limited energy, but I feel so grateful to RDA TT for their commitment to me and others that I joined the committee and am doing my bit to help continue their wonderful work. Thank you to RDA for the beneficial programs, the fantastic volunteers, staff and horses.