I believe in miracles. My custom made saddle from Schleese Saddlery has transformed my ability to ride horses.
I am 55 years old. I was born with spastic cerebral palsy, which affects my entire body. My hips, legs, knees, ankles and feet are severely rotated due to muscle contractions. My spine is no longer straight, my pelvis is tilted and I am unable to sit on both seat bones. My head also tilts to the right.
Therapeutic riding is the only form of exercise I am capable of doing. I have ridden horses for 47 years. In 1988 I was told by three orthopedic surgeons that by 1990 I would no longer be walking or riding horses. They also said I would be in a wheelchair 24/7 requiring heavy duty pain killers on a daily basis.
Thanks to therapeutic riding none of these predictions came true.
In 2007 I began to notice changes in my body. I began experiencing pain while riding and could no longer maintain my balance on a horse. By 2012 I knew I needed professional assistance if I was to continue riding.
In an effort to find a solution I contacted Schleese Saddlery. Denise Lenz and Julia Dixon conducted a thorough evaluation of my riding ability. The process involved three horses.
My custom made saddle is affectionately known as MSR-Dream Flyer (my initials). It has given me unexpected benefits:
- I am able to sit equally on both seat bones
- I am able to sit upright in the centre of my saddle
- I can move my limbs independently or separately (which was impossible before because of the severity of the spasticity)
- I am able to shift my weight and body position when necessary with minimal movement
- I do not feel like I am going to fall off
- I am in less pain and much more relaxed when riding
- I am able to ride sitting trot, which I had not been able to do for eight years!
Perhaps the most striking realization is that for the first time in my life, I understand and know what it feels like to have a solid, secure, independent seat. The joy and freedom I feel when riding is not possible when I walk. My custom made MSR-Dream Flyer has given me a second chance to do what I love: ride horses and participate once again in para-dressage competition.
Thank you everyone at Schleese Saddlery for this most precious gift!
— Melanie Skey Rodgers, ON