“I have been unfortunate with my disability, which is cerebral palsy. It affects my entire body and all four limbs, as well as severe brain damage, learning disabilities, dyslexia, and ADHD. I can not emphasize enough how important riding has been to me. On the ground I am unable to walk, or move, or even sit without a great deal of pain and difficulty. On the horse, it is like being on a flying carpet. I am free, I am in less pain, and my body moves with the horse, not against it. My balance and coordination, and ability to actually physically ride is something that is extraordinary.
When I began riding I had two side walkers and a chair, and I could not even sit up in the saddle at all. I was on a lunge line for 3 years before they even dared to let me off, but I was insistent in knowing that riding was the key to keeping my mobility and keeping my independence. I fought and fought for 53 years to keep moving. I have walked 33 years longer and ridden horses 33 years longer than the doctors told me I would be able to. This is solely because of three things. WindReach Farm and their incredible facility and program, Schleese Saddlery Service, who are responsible for giving me the best gift possible (without Jochen and his teams’ expertise in design, I would not be able to ride at all) and my wonderful horse.
Since 1993, Schleese has built 4 saddles for me that have helped accommodate my cerebral palsy and my muscles. If it wasn’t for Jochen and his wonderful teams’ dedication and willingness to work and find solutions, I would not have been in a position to compete my horse successfully nor ride independently outside and inside an arena. I have been a successful competitor since the age of 12, I’m now 63. My riding has saved my life. It is what I live for, and Schleese Saddlery Service, WindReach Farm and my horse are the three things that have kept my life together, kept me motivated, happy, content, and willing to do anything!
I am extremely grateful with all my heart to everyone for everything that they have done and every part that they played in my life!”