Healing Power Of Horses

A stroke survivor has spoken of the healing power of horses in an inspiring film.

Helen Neylon, from Birmingham, was a 34-year-old teacher, keen rider and mother to four-year-old twins Clare and Tom when a major stroke changed her life for ever in 2002.

She was unable to work, drive or ride and was unable to speak for two years.

“I can’t walk, I can’t ride, in the hospital I am sobbing,” she said, adding that the nurse had told her how different her life would be, although “in my heart [I was] still Helen.”

Helen inherited her parents’ love of horses — as a child her mother gave her the option of “ballet or riding”, and Helen chose the latter.

After seeing her own daughter develop a passion for riding, Helen became determined to get back in the saddle.

“My husband Mike called the Lowlands Farm Riding for Disabled Association centre so I could [ride] with her,” said Helen.

“During my first visit I was really frightened and frustrated that I couldn’t get on or off the horse.”

Helen made remarkable progress in her recovery, learning how to walk and talk again, and is now back riding twice a week aboard the “wonderful” Teg.

Teg looks after me,” said Helen, who specialises in dressage.

Talking to Teg also helped Helen through the grief of losing her parents in 2013.

The stroke left Helen with weakness in the right side of her body and she has no use of her right arm.

Helen added that while tacking up and changing rugs is tricky with one hand, she manages.

“I can only ride for around half an hour because I find it exhausting,” she said.

“On the horse, I ignore the worrying and nobody knows about me — I’m so happy, so free.”

The film was created by Equine Productions as part of the FEI Two Hearts video series.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday

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