Tales from the RDA Champs: ‘Riding gives me a different perspective’

Born with her legs folded up under her body, Margaret Lupton has spent her life in a wheelchair, but she doesn’t let that hold her back and finds solace and joy in the saddle.

Riding Domino, a 10-year-old black cob owned by her local Riding for the Disabled (RDA) group Borders, Scottish rider Margaret was second in the Grade I dressage championship at the RDA National Championships last weekend (13-15 July at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire).

“I’ve always loved horses and started riding at my local RDA centre when I was about five,” said Margaret. “I started in a GP saddle but had to hold on for balance, so they found a Western saddle which keeps me more secure, and that was it, I was away. I now always ride in a Western saddle.”

She was introduced to carriage driving when she was 12 and progressed up through the levels from RDA to national level.

“It was my main event which I did through the summer months and then I rode and did dressage through the winter, but I had a tumour in my arm which weakened the bone and it eventually broke in 2010, so I had to have reconstructive surgery and now have two metal plates holding my arm together. It means I don’t have the strength to drive any more, but I can still manage to ride.”

Margaret started concentrating on dressage in 2011 and has been riding Domino for three years.

“I can only walk so the grade I test, which is a walk-only test, suits me perfectly,” added Margaret. “Domino has an amazing walk; it’s something we’ve had to work on alongside my coach Clare Marshall because he wasn’t balanced or forward in the beginning, but he now steps out really well.

“I control him with my voice and by using the reins on his neck. When I put the rein on his neck, it means “move your shoulder over”, so rather than my leg moving him over, it’s the rein on his neck that moves his shoulder. I use my seat as well to manoeuvre him. He’s so gentle and willing.”

Despite only being able to ride every fortnight due to the RDA centre being 1hr20mins away, Margaret says it’s worth the drive.

“I drive myself to lessons there because it’s where Domino is, I get to compete and the facilities are brilliant.

“Horses are my exercise because it gets my body moving — every part of my body moves when I’m on a horse and I can see so much more on a horse than in my wheelchair, it gives me a completely different perspective.”

After her success at the RDA National championships, Margaret now has her sights set on the Scottish championships this September.

For full results from the RDA National championships, visit: www.rda.org.uk

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