Stephanie Quintrell, an army spouse living with a disability, tells us why being around horses has been hugely positive for her health…

For my tenth birthday, my parents treated me to a riding lesson and I became hooked. I’ve been fortunate enough to own some wonderful horses and have competed in a range of disciplines. I currently own Bubba, my beautiful mare who has become my para horse, and we also have Loki, a cheeky and rather naughty miniature Shetland.

Three years ago, I became unwell with a neurological condition. This resulted in me becoming a full-time wheelchair user, with only one working hand and many other symptoms to live with. For the first year, I didn’t attempt to ride, but simply spent time with my horses for both therapeutic reasons and to allow them time to get used to my new way of living.

Getting riding again felt like a slow process, and it began with me being lifted onto Bubba for just a five-minute sit. Fast forward to today, I’m now riding just as I was pre-disability. It’s been a learning curve for all of us and we’ve had to adapt to enable me to successfully ride. But with the help of bespoke tack, and my incredible family and friends, we now enjoy hacking in the countryside and have even started jumping again.

Unique feeling

I’m a fiercely independent person who felt like the world had been pulled from under me when I became ill, but my love of horses has given me the strength and motivation I need.

When I’m in the saddle, Bubba is my legs and I feel truly free. She knows when my body is more tired than normal, when I feel weaker, and when my head isn’t in the best place. She provides me a level of therapy no person could offer.

When we moved to our current posting, we felt it was best to leave the horses where they were. Although only seeing them at weekends has been hard to adjust to, they offer me a sense of stability in the unsettled lifestyle that we all know too well.

Being an equestrian gives me an identity I will never lose, regardless of how far we move or how my health declines.

For anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of being around these kind, powerful and beautiful creatures, I would 100 per cent recommend you give it a try.

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