A horse helps Rory to unlock his fear and anxiety around other people

A horse helps Rory to unlock his fear and anxiety around other people

Jeanette Davies’ son, Rory, has always had a passion for horses and it was this love that was to unlock his fear and anxiety around other people, with the help of the fantastic staff at Barguse Riding Centre, based in St Austell, Cornwall.

22-year-old Rory was born with Down’s syndrome, and the difficult challenges he faced resulted in him losing trust in the people around him, so Jeanette decided to try and use horses as a form of therapy.

Barguse Riding Centre, owned and run by Lisa and Alistair Todd, is an Accessibility Mark accredited centre. Accessibility Mark is a nationwide joint scheme between Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and the British Equestrian Federation to provide more riding opportunities for disabled people.

Within a week, Rory had his first riding lesson with Vicky at the centre and even progressed to enjoying an ‘Own a Pony Day’ without Jeanette staying with him, which was a major breakthrough.

It wasn’t just the staff that made a difference to Rory, it was his incredible bond with Goose, a 16.2hh horse that was bred in Russia and brought over to the UK to compete.

Rory has been riding at the centre for two years now and he is a changed young man and his ability has exceeded all expectation.

“The change in Rory didn’t happen overnight; it was because Vicky and Lisa took a deep breath and did an assessment of Rory’s needs. They looked at him as an absolute individual and didn’t try to make him fit into somewhere other than the place that he was in, they slowly and carefully allowed him to develop.

“Rory made mistakes and didn’t listen at times, which was frustrating for all but it became clear that they were not going to give up on him. In every lesson when Rory tried to get Vicky to argue, she didn’t. Vicky used every distraction technique and very slowly Rory learnt to trust Vicky and her instruction. Instead of giving up, he tries again and again until he gets it right. He isn’t afraid of failing and understands the process of learning now.”

Vicky has incorporated SMART Targets when planning Rory’s sessions to help set out and work towards goals and ambitions and even though there have been challenges along the way, they have always found a solution to every hurdle.

In a masterclass in inclusion and patience, all the young riders at Barguse have been educated on how to engage with Rory, meaning he is welcomed and encouraged by everyone on the yard.

Due to the recent coronavirus pandemic, Rory has been unable to attend for his usual lessons which has had a huge impact on his life. To help Rory during this uncertain time, Lisa has been keeping in regular contact with Rory, filming morning and evening walks around the stables and of course his beloved Goose.

During his time away from the centre, Rory has drawn pictures of Goose, written a poem about him and even made his own film; he simply cannot wait to return.