We Are Undefeatable: Winnie’s Story

by Laura Rudland Uncategorised

We were fortunate to visit Avon Riding Centre last week to meet Winnie, an ambassador for the centre. She has Cerebral Palsy, which has led to the tightening of all of her muscles and tendons. This condition makes it difficult to move and results in a lack of range of movement. Winnie joined the riding centre back in 2017 having always had an interest in horses. Winnie is currently in a wheelchair after a sharp health decline around the same time that the pandemic hit.

Sport England Active Lives survey revealed that during the initial phase of lockdown levels of activity dropped by 8.2% for people with a disability or a long term health condition.

When the pandemic hit the riding centre had to close, which posed challenges for Winnie as her horse riding lessons were not only a hobby but also a form of physiotherapy. The lessons would support strengthening her muscles, which was helping her to be able to walk back in 2019. After having a break from riding during the pandemic Winnie was fearful of returning to the centre as her immune system can make her more vulnerable to contracting colds and viruses. She had also lost confidence whilst being unable to attend. The Avon Riding Centre were incredibly supportive of Winnie and allowed her to use the mechanical horse in order to build her confidence back up and enabled her to return to her riding lessons. She hopes that with the return of her lessons post pandemic she will be able to physically recover and start walking again.

As well as the physical benefits horse riding brings Winnie also highlighted that engaging with the riding centre supported her mental health. Winnie finds just being at the centre with the horses and coaches provides a form of therapy, she doesn’t even need to be riding a horse to get the benefits. The connections with the horses, being outside and feeling part of a community have has given Winnie the boost and the motivation to continue her journey when she isn’t feeling 100%.

Winnie’s passion for inspiring others with a disability to get involved in horse riding is inspiring. She currently uses her social media channels to connect with others, share stories, meet other people with similar interests, challenges, and desires to overcome their fears or worries. She also writes a blog to share her experiences and inspire others to start their own journey.

Winnie’s story is a powerful one which shows the importance of sport and physical activity being accessible to people with a disability. Latest figures from Activity Alliance indicate that only 40% of disabled people feel they are given the opportunity to be as active as they would like to be.

Winnie’s dream is for more riding centres to adapt facilities for disabled people across the country to enable others with the opportunity to experience the life changing benefits horse riding and staying physically active can have.

The Avon Riding Centre has received funding jointly from Voscur and Wesport through the Sport England Tackling Inequalities Fund. Read more about the fund here.

Click here to visit Winnie's blog page. 

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about the author

Laura Rudland

Marketing and Administration Officer

T: 0117 32 81881