A young rider who has “resilience, courage and tenacity in spades” despite her disability hopes one day to showjump and ride along the beach.
Nine-year-old Kelsey Power, who has type three spinal muscular atrophy, was given the Maggis Tansley Award by Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) regional chairman John Chuter and county chair Cass O’Brien, on 2 April.
The Richmond & Catterick Riding for Disabled group nominated Kelsey, and the North Yorkshire and Cleveland committee felt she was the outstanding candidate. Ms O’Brien said: “She displayed all the criteria that this award is all about.”
Kelsey’s mother Hayley told H&H she had no idea the award was coming until Kelsey’s usual Saturday afternoon ride at Catterick Garrison Saddle Club.
“I had to hide and cry!” she said. “I’m so proud of her, she’s amazing.”
Hayley said Kelsey’s is the least severe form of the condition, but that many of those living with it are unable to walk by the age of 14. Kelsey uses a wheelchair, as if she walks for long distances, her legs give way, but does her best to walk as much as she can despite her weakness.
Hayley said Kelsey says she wants to “walk like other kids”.
“It breaks my heart,” she said. “She sees people her age running and she can’t.”
But four years ago, inspired by Hayley and one of her brothers, who both ride, Kelsey started with the RDA.
“She couldn’t wait,” Hayley said. “She loves horses so she was excited. She was nervous to start with but she absolutely loves it.”
Kelsey has two side-walkers to support her but has progressed from slow walking to trotting and steering her own pony. She has passed her stage one and two proficiency tests in riding and horse care and, Hayley says, has benefited physically.
“She couldn’t take her feet out of the stirrups when she started; now she can, and she can use her legs,” Hayley said. “She used to have to have someone’s hand on her back when she started but not now; she’s had lots of benefits.
“When she trots, we have to hold her as she goes floppy, bless her, but as soon as she gets on, she says ‘Are we trotting today?’ She was once left dangling off the side because my husband didn’t quite know how to hold her and I was having heart failure but she just said ‘Can we do it again?’! She wants to showjump when she’s older and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she did.”
Kelsey is on a new drug that will slow the progress of her condition, and Hayley hopes she will be able to fulfil her dream of riding on the beach with her mother and brother.
“We might have to get a couple of side-walkers but we’re determined,” she said. “I have scoliosis and I have bad days but I look at her and think she’s still smiling.
“I’m so proud of her, and the boys; as a family, we’ve had to deal with it but when she smiles, I know we’re all going to be ok.”
Sheri Wild, Kelsey’s coach, added: “Clearly the equine therapy of RDA and Kelsey’s own indomitable ‘can-do’ determination and ever-cheerful personality, combined with her Spinraza treatment, will mean she achieves every goal she sets herself. We are all so very proud of her achievements to date and know she’s going to continue to amaze us all.”
You might also be interested in:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.