The location of the tumours in his brain means that specific fine and gross skills impact Sam’s day to day life. Tasks that are simple to the rest of us, such as doing up buttons and zips, are major challenges to Sam. When other young boys Sam’s age are tearing around on bikes Sam has found just standing astride his bike and trying to balance himself a real problem.
Doing strenuous or prolonged activities puts a strain on his body, so Sam needs to develop his core strength, and practising fine and gross motor skills is so important. When Sam’s Mum, Karen, discovered that horse riding could help, particularly core strength and fine motor skills, they contacted Cotswold RDA. She explained “finding activities that are both fun and help Sam is a challenge, riding really helps with core strength and eye/hand co-ordination – learning to hold the reins and make adjustments to turn and bring the horse to a stop, has made an amazing difference”.
Three years ago Sam’s Occupational Therapy report stated he was on the first percentile for balance, finding both static and dynamic balance tasks difficult. He was finding it increasingly difficult to stabilise his joints and hold positions against gravity, making his endurance even lower. When Sam’s parents were told, after his latest assessment, that he is now on the twenty-fifth which is in line with the average across the whole population – they couldn’t have been more thrilled. Riding at Cotswold RDA has been one of the main drivers of this change, the specific therapy that riding provides has developed his core strength, and now also allows him to scoot along on his bike as well as riding the family tandem with his Dad and join in. Sam’s Mum says: “we have seen a significant improvement in his confidence, communication and listening skills too”.
This is borne out by Sam’s RDA Group Coach,Eileen O’Mahoney who said “Sam started with us in January 2018 on a Sunday. He rides with a group of 6 others of mixed ages and abilities. On his very first ride he sat beautifully and participated very well. Riding is helping to improve his core and fine motor skills because it provides the exercising needed in a fun and satisfying environment rather than in a “gym”. It is clear that Sam enjoys his budding relationship with his pony Max and this enhances his riding. By sitting well and giving the right aids to his pony in walk and trot he is exercising and improving his core and motor skills and coordination. He has gained his RDA Grade 1 Horse Care which is contributing to his achieving his Scout’s Riding Badge.”
So what does Sam have to say about learning to ride? “My favourite pony is Max. Max is cheeky because he sometimes misbehaves by stopping and doing a poop! I think riding is cool, and I have learnt a lot, such as making Max start and stop, making him turn round cones and trotting. One day Max and I did an obstacle challenge, and we got a rosette!”.