Finding outlets or passion after an injury can be difficult. For me, it's helping others get back outdoors or wheelchair travels. My personal outlet is horseback riding. It began when I rescued my first horse and started training it as a therapy horse. It was a positive and addicting hobby. If I know I have to go feed and care for my horses, that pulls me out of the bed everyday! It's a joy to be around these horses. They love unconditionally and rescuing them is a privilege. These horses were once unwanted and with the help of high school students we give these horses a true purpose. In all honesty, the horses have rescued me.
It's my form of hiking, and my husband and I have starting exploring places I would have never dreamed of. Places no one else in a wheelchair has been!
So how did I make it happen? I had trouble finding saddles I could afford. My husband made our saddle by repurposing a western saddle, and a wheelchair back. Then i used a strap made of neoprene for abdomen support. When we were making the modifications to the saddle adapt we did not disturb the saddle tree. The saddle tree is the most important aspect of the saddle. It is what insures the proper fit of the horse, balance of the rider, and overall strength of the saddle. Disturbing this could cause safety issues. That’s why we bolted the repurposed wheelchair back with “L” brackets to the leather of the saddle.
The healthy benefits that horseback riding can provide include improved physical strength, muscle tone, balance, mobility and hand-eye coordination are some of the visibly enhanced skills. The more subtle improvements are fortified self-esteem, self-control and self-confidence. Peer interaction and social skills are also developed as well.
It has allowed me so much independence being back in the saddle! It is now my new “happy place”. Ride on my friends.