Challenging Disability Through Outdoor Adventure

Sarah and Kojak Join Up
Sarah and Kojak Join UpSarah and Kojak Join Up

Sarah's Join Up


Sarah has been on both the Horse Riding and Trap Driving Courses at the Lake District Calvert Trust.  Here Sarah tells her story of how 'Join Up' or Horse Whispering with the centres stables has helped her to discover her own strength.


"I live with my husband and two dogs in Woodford, Essex. When I came on the riding holiday in 2011 I was single, very unsure of myself and had very little confidence in my ability to do things and I was very depressed. I came to the Calvert Trust because of my disability which is called myotonia congenita and paramyatonia congenita which causes my muscles to lock or become stiff.


As I do not look like I have a disability I didn’t think I could go to somewhere like this, it has been the trouble all my life as people do not understand my medical condition. It was never an issue at the Calvert Trust.I was never made to feel that I should not be there, instead they seemed to understand my difficulties just by listening and watching me and mainly helping me feel accepted and encouraging me to do new things and to relax and have fun.


I had to tell you what join-up or horse whispering has done for me. I had wanted to do join-up since I saw Monty Roberts about 12 years ago at the Docklands and more recently Martin Clunes when he had a go at an equine therapy centre. So at last this was my chance at the Calvert Trust to have a go and it was the first thing I asked if I could do! 


Now the day had come, it started by going on a ride up the Fell and I decided to tackle my fear of heights and go one stage higher. With a lot of encouragement from Henry and my leader and trust in Kojak, I did it and it was great.


I felt fantastic! I must admit I was scared but it was such a great feeling to do this and to achieve it and overcome the fear with help – it really boosted my confidence. I felt pride, satisfaction and achievement.


The last thing we did that day was join-up. I watched Henri do it with another horse then it was my turn with Kojak. I felt excited and nervous about whether I could do it - I wanted this so much.  I stood in the middle with Kojak on the outside track and I sent him forward. To my amazement he went then I turned him, he did that too - he was listening to me- sometimes I could not turn him but Henri said I had to look and get in front of him and turn him again.


When he started putting his head down and starting to chew and look to me I walked, turning my back on him and waited. I did this thinking “can I do this? What if he does not come? But I must believe he will because I want this so much”.  It seemed like ages, it felt like it was just me and him and no-one else and he was looking to me alone to be his leader. I stood still, put my head down and waited.  It seemed like forever but then he nudged me. I wanted to look at him then but I resisted as I knew I had to massage gently all down both sides and then I stood in front of him and started to walk and to my amazement he followed me.


When I stopped, he stopped.  When I changed direction, he changed. When I walked a circle, he followed and then I brought him back to the others.


I felt like I was floating with happiness and a sense of achievement and wonder, and I could feel tears of happiness.  He believed in me and I could be in charge - I had it in me.


Since the holiday I have won the dressage class twice at Chigwell Riding Trust where I ride. I gained enough confidence to come on the driving course at Calvert Trust which I loved. In my personal life I started to believe I could try new things, so I went on an internet dating site and met my husband Dave. A lot has happened since 2011. My next aim is to bring my husband and go riding or driving at the Calvert Trust. 


The experience has carried me forward in my journey of coming out of depression and finding my own strength and also discovering that I can achieve things I have dreamt about if I believe in myself.


With special thanks to Lou, Henri and most of all Kojak"

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