Memories from The Shelley Centre…... Returning Home……
At the tender age of three I discovered Goldie, a bright and cheerful Palomino pony at the Shelley Centre for Therapeutic Riding. It was love at first sight and I was hooked. That was 20 years ago and I’ve been a regular ever since – trust me, it’s addictive. Cerebral Palsy left me with mobility problems, so having a four-legged friend represented freedom, independence and release from daily struggles. It always amazed me that a horse could be so willing and patient. It also became a great way to exercise without really being aware of doing it! I would wish away the hours, days and week, just for my chance to receive my Shelley dose; I’d dismount and immediately begin the countdown for the forthcoming week.
A lot of my riding success I attribute to Lyn, Jane and Margaret’s can-do attitude, their support and belief in me, with many minor modifications and adaptations along the way to keep riding possible. As 17 years came and went, sadly as time passed I had to realize that I had reached my full potential as far as riding was concerned. I needn’t have worried – as ever, Lyn and Margaret were never ones to give up that easily. A proposition came my way that, if I was willing to fund-raise for a specially-adapted wheelchair carriage, their part of the bargain would be to do their utmost to provide the horse. I hasten to say, I snapped at the chance and within a year the carriage became a reality. (Unbeknown to me, this move had been in the pipeline for a while). The horse came in the form of Jet, who was purchased with the idea that one of his roles could be to undertake this special job. Well, he was the professional with his driving background. A brand-new driving team was rustled together which, after some changes, now comprises Margaret and Howard.
I won’t lie, at first it seemed a very strange concept to suddenly have distance between us; the relationship was now based on faith and trust on my part, whereas when riding, you are ‘one unit’. However, I needn’t have worried, I was in safe hands. Over the next couple of years, Jet obliged by giving me tours of the beautiful Shelley countryside, guided me through a splendid dressage test for Grade I and we completed an impressive Dressage-to-Queen-music for the Open Day
Fast forward to 2010 and after a break I am back, working towards Grade II. I can honestly say that I felt I’ve never been away. Thanks to such peaceful surroundings and the friendly, welcoming atmosphere, I felt I was home where I belong.
I must thank Eunice, Howard, both Margarets and Lyn; truly special people who give up their time freely to allow me to enjoy this exciting experience. And not forgetting the main man himself – Jet – who works so hard to please. The Shelley journey has taught me many things: to always have a dream that challenges you, and always remember, anything is possible. Calling anyone out there reading this – I’d encourage you to take a risk, and give Riding/Carriage Driving a go.