Horse riding

My client wanted to go horse-riding so I booked us a 2 hour pony trek in the Peak District. My client was very excited about this and couldn't wait to go. On the day of the trek I arrived at my client’s house and she said she was unsure whether she wanted to go because she didn't know whether she would remember how to ride. What if people thought she was stupid? How many people would be watching her? These questions carried on all the way to the trekking centre even though I was reassuring her all the time.

My client was very anxious and repeatedly stuck on the same conversation - she couldn't think about anything else. This is because of her frontal lobe injury and her inability to be able to use her cognitive skills to take in the reassuring answers. I knew it was a really important activity for my client, as getting back on a horse would give my client a massive boost to her confidence and would contribute her quality of life. To make matters worse, we then got stuck in traffic giving my client even more time to worry about what was coming.

My role throughout the day was to encourage her and explain how things would be during the day; that no one would think that she was silly, as everyone was going there for the same reasons - to learn to ride! We worked through the fitting of protective clothing and fitting the safety hat very calmly. Then I showed my client how to sit still and quietly on the horse. I was fulfilling the role of a friend in joining her out on the ride - something she hadn't been able to do since she was very young. The instructor led the way and I followed on my horse behind the client.

My client really enjoyed the activity and afterwards said that she would like to go again. I think my encouragement and support helped a lot, as I it is unlikely the client would have managed to go through with the activity without this. I think I could have done some better planning and tried to make the route to the trekking centre traffic-free, as waiting in traffic really didn't help the client’s anxiety.

Experience of a support worker in the Sheffield area

Posted: February 2014

If you would like to comment on this story please email us at supportworkers@jspsh.co.uk