Eloise started riding with Rossway RDA in 2018 at the age of 5. Although she looked so tiny on a pony, we knew that the team would keep her safe at all times.

Eloise has been diagnosed with CHARGE Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes a range of physical and health problems that vary from child to child. For Eloise, these include profound hearing loss, heart defects, cleft lip and palate, facial palsy and poor balance. While riding might not at first seem like the obvious choice for a child that struggles with large motor skills and balance issues, Eloise was desperate to be around horses and to ride.

Luckily Irene and the team at Rossway RDA welcomed her with open arms.

The changes that we have observed over the last four years have been staggering – physically, socially and emotionally. Through weekly riding sessions, Eloise’s posture and core strength have significantly improved. She used to tire so quickly, but now her stamina is greatly improved. These benefits have even carried through to the classroom, with teachers commenting on her increased physical abilities and capacity to concentrate for longer periods.

In addition to the health benefits of riding, we now see a happier, more confident little girl. She skips onto the yard, desperate to see her favourite pony Hector and has grown in confidence. She is so very proud of what she has achieved and is keen to share her knowledge of horses with everyone.

While Eloise misses a lot of spoken language, the RDA volunteers all ensure she understands exactly what is going on. Communication will always be a challenge for Eloise, however, when she is on horseback, her huge smile tells you everything you need to know. These wonderful RDA ponies are the absolute highlight of Eloise’s week.

I can honestly say that the RDA has been a game changer for Ayla.

When we started riding with Rossway, Ayla was barely attending school, struggling to sit upright for any length of time without support and using a wheelchair to go anywhere further than the end of our road.

Her confidence in herself and her body was at zero and she was anxious, struggling with worsening ocd behaviours and tics and deteriorating rapidly both physically and emotionally.

Ayla was diagnosed in 2019 with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a chronic condition that means she faces a multitude of physical and emotional challenges daily. Primarily the condition affects her joints and ligaments causing chronic pain and fatigue but she also struggles with gastrointestinal issues, migraines, autonomic disfunction, anxiety, sensory hypersensitivity, ocd and tics. By age 11 Ayla was almost bed bound with pain and fatigue and was no longer attending school at all.

The physiotherapy we had been offered was minimal, painful and ineffective and Ayla hated going to and from regular hospital appointments but we knew that physio was key and we were desperate to find something to help her.

Then I spoke to Irene at Rossway and honestly, it changed everything for us… 18 months on and riding is the highlight that gets us through the week. Ayla is stronger than she’s been in years. Her confidence in herself and her body’s ability has grown hugely. She is back in school regularly and taking 8 GCSE’s , we haven’t used her wheelchair at all in the last 6 months and she is happier than she has been in a long while.

The physical and mental benefit of regular riding has been nothing short of miraculous. When Ayla sits on a horse, without anyone having to say anything, she corrects her posture and engages her core. Vital physiotherapy that she so desperately needed and that she does without even realising whilst riding.

While she’s in the saddle and even just around the horses, all her tics disappear and she describes it as feeling like having hit a ‘reset button’ for her ocd patterns. These horses (along with an incredible, dedicated team of volunteers!) are just amazing; Their gentle intuitive energy and their calming nature, their ability to ‘read’ their rider and instinctively support them with all the different challenges they arrive with each week. They offer so much to so many, they are literally changing lives for the better. Please help support this incredible charity that helps so many people and means so much to our family personally. Ayla is doing better than we ever hoped was possible. She is saving up for a horse of her own.