Success Stories

Riding for The Disabled Association: Juan’s story

Juan Greggor is a totally visually impaired rider who is benefitting from the new initiative with Wooden Spoon and Riding for The Disabled Association (RDA) that supports disabled children and young people across the UK.

Juan competes in dressage without any additional support whatsoever – apart from the birds, that is…

“I have a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which causes sight deterioration, and I was registered blind in 2010. I also have ataxia, which affects my balance and coordination.

I have been riding since I was 4 years old. I’m 22 now and as I haven’t been blind all my life I know what the inside of a riding school looks like. I’ve seen the arena markers and I’ve got a mapped memory of the school.

Some people count the horse strides, some people use subtle changes in light. I use all that, and I take timings and listen for the sounds. Where I usually ride they have quite a lot of birds that roost in the rafters. So I can usually tell where I am by the birds.

RDA has helped me massively. As well as the blindness, I have a condition that causes quickened muscle wastage and balance and coordination issues. Half an hour on the back of a horse is more than equal to an hour of an Occupational Therapists time, and since I lose muscle tone much faster than other people I ride three times a week just to keep myself upright.”

RDA is experiencing a growing demand for services amongst older children and needs to increase the number of bigger horses at its centres across the UK. Wooden Spoon aims to help fill this gap.

In preparation for RDA’s 50th anniversary in 2019, Wooden Spoon have pledged to help RDA fund a team of horses across the country.

“Riding is wonderful. It’s the best thing in the world. Being a boy, obviously there is the speed and adrenaline side of it and with the dressage there is also the accuracy. That’s what makes me feel so alive: that I can actually control something and be very accurate with it. It’s the closest I’m ever going to get to driving a car, so I absolutely love it! It feels like I have wings.”

Juan is benefitting from the support of generous people like you. Get involved today and help more young people like Juan.