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Finn's story

Creating a brighter future

 

Finn has just turned 16. He’s taking part in Ride High’s first ‘Portfolio Programme’ which is specifically for young people not attending school.

Finn suffers with anxiety and depression and was incredibly nervous when he first started at Ride High. He had a huge fear of people, and initially his mum would stay for his sessions. Sitting and chatting to him four months into the programme, it’s clear to see that Finn has made huge strides in his confidence and his ability to communicate with others.

For Finn one of the most important things Ride High has given him is the opportunity to make friends. He wears a huge smile on his face whilst talking about Mark his Club Leader, and another member in his group. Finn has never been to school, so these relationships are extremely precious to him. Ride High is also Finn’s first commitment - in particular, working with the horses has required him to be focused and take on an element of responsibility. This seemed almost impossible to begin with, but with support and by attending every week, Ride High has become a familiar routine - an alternative haven to home - and one which is helping him to control negative feelings and anxieties, and to adopt a more positive outlook.

But Finn hasn’t stopped there. Ride High has helped him to step even further outside of his comfort zone and to engage in other rewarding experiences he’d never imagined previously. Finn attended the Ride High Ball in January and more recently visited Newmarket for the day - these experiences challenged Finn but he gained a great sense of pride from achieving them. He has even started to express hopes and desires for the future. In the Clubroom his artistic abilities have shone and where he once never considered what might lie ahead - he is now firmly considering a creative career path. To help him we reached out to WSA - a creative agency in Milton Keynes and much to Finn’s delight (and ours) their MD Jerry is going to mentor Finn to help him make his dreams a reality.

The progress Finn has made whilst at Ride High is astounding. We’re so proud of everything he’s achieved so far and have every confidence that he’ll continue to do great things in the future.


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Emilija's Story

Music to our ears

 

We are delighted to share some exciting news on behalf of our member Emilija... 

Emilija, 18 has recently received an unconditional offer to study music at the University of West London! She plays four different instruments no less!... She takes great strength from music and her dream is to become a Music Therapist so she can use her talents to help others. Emilija has experienced great trauma in her young life and moving to the UK from Lithuania just two years ago presented additional challenges. When it all became too much and her mental health was extremely low, she was referred to Ride High.

A couple of months into her membership Emilija now describes her time with the horses as being as important to her as her music. “To see, touch and hug the horses is so calming and is helping me to feel both emotionally and physically stronger. What I’ve been through makes it very hard for me to trust and confide in others, but by putting my trust in the horses I somehow feel like it’s becoming easier to trust people again.”

We are very proud of Emilija. She’s come such a long way during her time at Ride High - the fact that she even shared her good news demonstrates tremendous progress. She is immensely talented, and we’re pleased that she’s starting to recognise it. We wish her lots of luck for the future. 


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Emily's story

Turning stress into success

 

Emily 17, was moving into her final year of A’Levels when she was referred to Ride High by the crisis team at MK Hospital. It was a very stressful time, and she was struggling with her mental health and her Tourette syndrome. 

As she nears the end of her Ride High membership, Emily is able to reflect on how her experience has helped her to put things into perspective and to manage her anxieties… “Coming to Ride High has allowed me a couple of hours each week to take my mind of everything, and to focus on something positive. Spending time with the horses has helped calmed me down and my Tourette’s is much better with a big distraction!”

Emily has also made friends at Ride High, and it’s clear to see that she now feels happy and relaxed when she’s with us. She’s taken part in additional trips too and we’re very proud of her for representing Ride High at our Charity Ball. What’s particularly encouraging is how Emily feels just as confident in everyday life now as she does when she’s at Ride High. She tells us how Ride High has helped give her the confidence to plan for the future - and she has just secured herself an unconditional offer to university. “I’m hoping to study psychology and I’d like a career in therapy because it’s really helped me”.

Emily is such a thoughtful member of Ride High. She’s so grateful for having the opportunity to attend and we’re equally grateful for her dedication and determination. Well done Emily!

 

Watch Emily's video on You Tube to hear more about her Ride High experience. 


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Brandon's story

When Brandon bravely told his story at the Ride High Masquerade Ball 2022

 

“I joined Ride High when I was 10. I felt anxious about school and I worried all night and through the weekend. My confidence and self-esteem were suffering and it made life difficult for me. My CAMHS worker suggested Ride High. Although I was nervous I wanted to join because I like learning new things.

My first lesson was on Coco, who became one of my favourite horses. I love his soft nose and personality. Once I’d built up my confidence I found riding really exciting, specially trotting. My first clubroom project was about George Stubbs. Milton Keynes gallery had an exhibition by Stubbs and we created our own pieces inspired by him. Our work was displayed at the gallery. I was so proud to see my work in the gallery and to realise how much other people thought of it. One of the best things about Ride High was making friends.

We were worried when Covid-19 meant we couldn’t meet up. We didn’t know how long the lockdown was going to be and we missed each other and the horses. To help us, Ride High set up online groups so we could talk. Sometimes there were live sessions in the fields so we could see the horses. They also sent us packs every week until we could go back. I really looked forward to those. I completed all the projects and my family joined in with them some of them too – it was nice to share. Doing my projects made me happy and helped me feel less lonely because I knew there were people all over Milton Keynes doing the same project.

When my time with Ride High ended I took home all my work, a rosette, a certificate and the photos of me riding. Ride High is very important to me, because it helped me so much. Being part of it made me feel connected, welcome and wanted. It’s helped me to feel happy, confident and positive.

I’m 13 now and I’m coping with other challenges, but my time at Ride High helps me manage. These days I worry far less and have ways of coping with anxiety. Ride High gave me something to look forward to and helped me imagine a better future. I will always remember Ride High and feel grateful that I had this chance.”


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Rebecca’s story

Sharing success

 

 "I looked forward to my time with the horses every week. They made me feel calm and like I was in control. Riding made me feel like I was good at something and the adrenaline I felt when trotting or cantering stopped me self-harming. Ride High gave me the motivation to leave my house, which was something I barely did back then. The staff helped me to realise that I wasn’t going to be stuck that way forever and that I could overcome what I was struggling with. I am now entering my second year at University. Ride High helped me to recover and put me on the right path to where I am today."


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Emma's story

Aiming High

 

"I was 14 when I started at Ride High. My school referred me after I'd been emotionally bullied by people who I thought were my friends. It completely destroyed my self-confidence and I became very depressed and anxious.

At Ride High the people and the environment were really friendly and I could tell the horses anything because I knew they would never judge me. Going to Ride High improved my confidence tenfold so much so that I went to a new school for sixth form. Something I thought I could never do. I also learned to manage my anxieties better. I used to worry about every little thing, and I still do sometimes, except now I know how I can deal with how I'm feeling. After I was bullied I felt that I couldn't trust anyone. Ride High taught me how to trust again and that it's important to talk about my problems.

I now have a strong friendship group and have become a more optimistic and confident young woman. My time at Ride High made me realise that I want to work with animals and without it I definitely wouldn't be at Sixth Form doing my A' levels with a view to going to the University of Surrey to study veterinary medicine.

Thank you Ride High!"


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Gabby's Story

You see things from a different perspective on a horse's back. I feel privileged to be a part of Ride High.

 

"I was sixteen when I was referred to Ride High by the Child and Adolescent Mental health department at Milton Keynes general hospital. I'd been under their care for two years for anorexia, depression, anxiety, and OCD. I had hardly been in school during my GCSEs due to exhaustion, stress and anxiety. The hospital referred me to Ride High so I could begin to exercise under controlled conditions that would not be damaging to my health, and to allow me to gain confidence outside the stress of school and effort of recovery.

Eighteen months on and my life has changed. Through caring for the horses, I've learnt that I need to care for myself; there is much more to life than just school work and obsessions over food. The horses are a wonderful comfort. I love to cuddle them and feel their warm breath on my face or riding on a summer evening. You see things from a different perspective on a horse's back.

I met new people and made friends. Having struggled myself made me determined to encourage others to see that they could overcome the obstacles in their lives. I started to see the progress that I was making. How could I be so strong and determined to help others if I did not practice what I preached? This year I am applying for university. It's a huge milestone that many thought my illness would prevent me from reaching. I feel privileged to be a part of Ride High."


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Cameron's story

When I first started at Ride High I found the people more intimidating than the horses

 

Cameron was referred to Ride High by the central PEC in Milton Keynes when he was 14 years old. He had very low confidence and struggled to speak to anyone. The school were concerned about his future, especially in terms of finding employment.

Rachel Medill, founder of Ride High, worked with Cameron when he first arrived at Ride High. He wouldn't pick up a pencil. He wouldn't look anyone in the eye and refused to take part in activities. His first response to everything was no.

Cameron remembers, "When I first started at Ride High I found the people more intimidating than the horses.

I remember arriving at my Ride High sessions feeling bad, but I always left in a good mood. Just being around the horses made me feel so much better. My favourite horse was Quincy. I absolutely loved him. He's a Norwegian Fjord pony so he's got a really cool mane.

I managed to talk to the Club Leader a little bit, and eventually I started to feel better around the other children in my group. My biggest challenge was the trip to Badminton Horse Trials. There were so many people there, such big crowds of strangers, but I really enjoyed it".

Rachel remembers, "As we walked around the stalls and displays at Badminton he started to speak to the stallholders. He was asking questions of strangers and I couldn't quite believe it! It was a massive step forward for him".

In summer 2014 Cameron finished his course in Animal Care, Levels 1 & 2, at Moulton College: "We had to do a presentation in front of the whole class. It was terrifying but I managed it. I wouldn't have been able to do it without Ride High because we did lots of activities where we had to talk in front of other people and work in teams".

"Because of Ride High I am more confident at talking to new people and am able to be myself around them. Without Ride High I don't think I would ever have gone to college and made new friends. I'm still in touch with some of them today. My life has changed so much because of Ride High."


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Cherilyn’s Story

For the first time in my life I felt proud of who I was and what I had become because of Ride High

 

"When I first joined Ride High I was just 14. I had absolutely no confidence; I couldn't interact with other children or adults. Horses were my favourite animal. I wanted to learn so much more about them. When I got told I was going to learn to ride and spend time with horses I was over the moon!

It was such an amazing experience as different horses have their own personality. I learnt a lot at Ride High that I will never forget. Trips out were so much fun and I was able to be a part of the fundraising helping the charity. It felt nice to help the charity which has helped me in so many ways.

In 2011 I was an ambassador at the Ride High Ball with over 300 guests. I was interviewed by Jeremy Vine and felt really confident. For the first time I felt proud of who I was and who I had become with the help of Ride High.

I struggled with meeting new people but Ride High introduced me to some amazing and friendly people who I have become great friends with." 


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Caitlin's story

My favourite thing

 

"I was 16 when I was first referred by CAMHS to Ride High mainly to help escape from my intrusive thoughts. Being such a high risk to myself, I wasn't allowed to be alone. Therefore I stayed with my mum 24/7. Ride High gave me that alone time.

I've always had a love for animals but Ride High brought out my love for them even more. My favourite thing would be to come see the horses each week whilst getting such amazing support from the staff there. I was offered space when I needed it, someone to talk to when I needed it and I was even given one of my favourite pony's shoes the day I left which I will keep forever. I spent two years at Ride High and in that time my confidence grew more than it had before, I finally found something I loved in life and my little world didn't seem so dark anymore.

I left Ride High about a year ago but I haven't stopped horsing around! I am well into my recovery and I now fully loan my dream gelding who I ride dressage competitively on and has taught me to jump 3ft without any fear. I wouldn't have been able to do it without Ride High. Thanks to the charity I am myself again with a bonus new best friend!"


Children we help each week

88

Total children we have helped so far

1500

+

How many years we have been running

10

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