Ann is a spirited 69 year old Yorkshire woman. A difficult childhood coupled with polio and learning difficulties led to placements in care homes for much of her life. When Barry, an ex-serviceman who was to become Ann’s support worker, first saw her in a care home she had very little speech, was a loner, and someone with very few social skills. Barry took her into his home when she was in her 40s and set about nurturing her development by providing a homely rather than institutional space, a pet (a King Charles spaniel), and encouraged her to talk.
Ann was leading a quiet uneventful life until riding with the RDA gave her that special ‘spark’. Perhaps it was a childhood memory of her father working with horses that drew her to want to ride and be with horse again. Where Ann tended to by terse with people she was gentle and caring with horses and horses recognised this an accepted her gestures of sugar lumps and kisses. Research has shown that horses can recognise human facial expression and differentiate between smiles and expressions of anger. Crispin, a magnificent black Yorkshire Dales Pony, became the love of her life.
Barry, in his ancient Morris Traveller, would regularly take Ann to Sunday RDA lessons. Ann and Crispin began to enter competitions and one year won the North East Regional RDA Competition. Off the ancient Morris Traveller went to the National Championships held in Gloucestershire. The competition was stiff but Ann performed very well and came third in the dressage competition. Her smile says it all.