Jeri Weikle was a Riding Centre therapeutic student with multiple sclerosis. She came to the Riding Centre in 1994 in a wheelchair and unable to drive a car. Within six months she was able to drive herself and walk aided only by a cane. Jeri credits her therapeutic riding for her progress.
In her own words…
“Multiple sclerosis is a thief that steals away parts of me. It takes away my ability to move freely and enjoy outdoors the way I once did. In my dreams I don’t have MS. I can walk and run wherever I wish. Then I wake up to the reality of a weak left side and problems with gait and balance that limit my walking and keep me indoors much of the time.
Now, with the help of a beautiful Appaloosa mare, I’ve found a way to leave my disabilities on the ground and move like a “normal” person. Riding a horse is a treat for me. As a child I read many books about horses and often pretended I was riding a horse or even was a horse. Now, as a disabled adult, I feel I’m living out a childhood fantasy that brings psychological and physical benefits.
Riding requires courage (“normal ” people are often fearful of a horse’s size and power) and could even be considered dangerous (riders must wear helmets.) The rhythm of the horse’s walk and the rocking motion I experience in the saddle work the muscles I used to use in walking. This results in stronger abdominal and back muscles and improved balance and walking. The morale boost and physical benefits I receive from riding give me a way to cope with MS – a way to recover some of what has stolen from me and a way to make the dream of moving normally become a reality.”
-Jeri Weikle, 3/98