Here is out latest guest blog, just in time to celebrate the Paralympic games in Rio!
In this blog, Diane Green writes about her journey from a being diagnosed with trauma induced MS through to gaining the courage to get back on a horse. With the support of Watershed RDA, Diane has been on an incredible ride and has now reached the Para Dressage National Champions!
I was diagnosed with trauma induced MS 10 years after a riding accident saw me suffer a horrific head and facial injury when I was kicked in the face by a horse I was leading. My riding days ended there until some 17 years later a Consultant suggested I should go back to riding as I was struggling to sit up unaided for long and he thought it would be good for my core strength. That is when I met the Watershed RDA Team and Beans the wonder pony. At first I cried each time when I got home, I was nervous when I rode and couldn’t last more than 10 minutes at a time, I had to have 2 walkers either side of me and someone leading Beans, very upsetting for someone who in a previous life had had horses at Grand Prix Dressage level and I was sad that I couldn’t see that I would ever get that back.
The Watershed Team were fantastic with me and we did everything at my pace and with humour and as the months went by I got stronger and more confident until I was able to move from the steady neddy that is Beans and start to ride off of the lead rein and onto Connor who was much sharper and a real character. I started doing some video dressage tests with him and at the end of our first year together we won a silver medal in the RDA online National Championships 2015. It went so well I made the decision to seek out a Dressage Trainer and found Sara Gallop at Summerhouse Equestrian Centre and after a few months together she suggested I get my own horse and have a go at Para Dressage – so she found me the perfect Horse Winnie who we nickname the Unicorn.
Winnie and I joined the British Dressage South West Para Dressage Team in January 2016, were we attend a monthly training session with FEI trainers and Judges, attended the Para Dressage Camp with the team GB coaches and were selected to represent the region at the Inter County Championships, where we were Reserve Champions.
We were then selected to represent England at the Home International held at Vale View, Melton Mowbray. Winnie and I won all 4 of our tests and our team were 3rd, the highest placing they have ever achieved at this event. I also won the top prize for the highest scoring rider of the weekend.
We won Gold at the Dressage Anywhere RDA National Championships riding for Watershed RDA.
We’re Reserve Champions in the Freestyle Championships at the RDA Nationals 2016.
We applied for entry onto the BEF Talent Pathway (Team GB training platform) and have been selected, this leads onto the World Class Podium Pathway and we are now working towards a Paralympic Team place in Japan 2020. Our first training session was August 9th.
Winnie and I also won the British Dressage Bronze National Championships and came 2nd in the Silvers – hard to believe that we have become National Champions in our first attempt – the future is very exciting!
Without Watershed RDA I would not have started on this journey with Winnie and Sara and I owe them so much. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to ride a Grand Prix test but I can still ride a quality horse and compete at the highest level.
In the early days of my diagnosis there were times when I would be at home for weeks at a time without venturing out in my wheelchair. Now I have a full-time job in our business, drive a car independently and ride Winnie 3/4 times a week with a competition most weeks too and I am back at Watershed coaching 3 other budding Dressage stars – Thank you Watershed!
MS-UK are always looking for volunteers to work in our office or at our fundraising events, here are some points to consider if you are thinking of volunteering…
Ask – Let people know that you are looking to volunteer and what your interests are. Your own community is an ideal place to reach out.
Don’t over commit – As eager as you are to make a difference, you don’t want volunteer projects to rule your schedule. Make sure you balance your time carefully so that your professional life or family time doesn’t take a critical hit.
Have fun – Helping others is its own reward, but it shouldn’t feel like a chore. Even the most mundane task can be fun if you manage it with a sense of humour and excitement for making a difference.
Consider your skills – Ask yourself what you have to offer. What skills do you have and how can they translate to helping MS-UK? If you’re a good photographer, maybe you can take pictures at one of our fundraising events!
Learn something new – Yes, you’ve got something to offer, but what else can you get out of this experience besides the joy of giving back? Trying things that may be out of your comfort zone forces you to learn and adjust—a skill all of us can benefit from. Plus, you might find that you enjoy something you didn’t know about before.
Combine your goals – Look for volunteer opportunities that will help you achieve personal goals in addition to the goal to do well. Research shows this will help you stay committed to the cause.
Pull in the same direction – While you may have your own ideas on how things should be done, remember why you are volunteering––everyone is there with the same good intentions.
Involve your friends and family – When a family volunteers together, it’s a win-win for everyone. The experience can bring everyone closer together, introduce skills and experiences never before encountered, and create special memories (plus, wherever you’re volunteering benefits from more hands on deck!).
Be yourself – Bring your heart, your sense of humour, and your enthusiastic spirit to your volunteer service. Never be afraid to ask about things you don’t know or understand yet.
Volunteering is what you make it, so be positive and you go out there and save the world!
If you would like to volunteer for us contact Mark Drain for fundraising events opportunities, or Sarah Wright for office opportunities.
Mark Drain on 01206 226502
Sarah Wright on 01206 226511
So, September has arrived, and we are excited to be going along to MS Life 2016 at ExCel London this month!
You can now find out the highlights of what will be happening at the event on the MS Society website. You can also download a full timetable of activities.
We will be there for both days at stand 246, so do please come and say hello!
See you there!
The MS-UK Helpline team