My Daughter is My Equestrian Hero
Equestrian and Otherwise
This was easy for me to write but extremely difficult to share. My daughter insisted it would help others and was determined that I share her story. After all, that’s the kind of person she is. Cameron is special, as all children are in their own way. She is sassy, confident, and intelligent. She also has cerebral palsy.
We don’t know when she had the stroke, or “brain bleed” as she calls it, but she was diagnosed at 18 months old. She met every developmental milestone and can do anything. The only difference is she has to work harder than others.
For those of you who don’t know what cerebral palsy is, I’ll let the Cerebral Palsy Alliance tell you:
“Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. It is due to damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth.
Cerebral palsy affects people in different ways and can affect body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. Although cerebral palsy is a permanent life-long condition, some of these signs of cerebral palsy can improve or worsen over time.”
There are many pediatric strokes survivors in the world, although it is a little talked of topic.
We are the proud parents of a stroke survivor. Click To Tweet
Cameron has never known any differently. While she may get frustrated at times, especially as she gets older, she is a fighter and good luck to the person who tries to tell her what to do.
Therapeutic Horse Riding
When Cameron was 4 years old she was recommended by Early Intervention to a local therapeutic horse riding center. Special People United to Ride (SPUR) has been a source of comfort, confidence, and excitement for Cameron these last 4 years. We are extremely lucky to have it so close to home.
I first brought Cameron to meet a horse when she was 18 months old. She fed the horses carrots and squealed with excitement. As an equestrian myself I knew the benefits of therapeutic riding.
I spoke with Cameron’s trainer about our goals when she started. I wanted her to have the occupational therapy and physical therapy benefits of therapeutic riding. But it was also important to learn to ride independently and handle a horse.
Therapeutic Riding Teaches My Daughter the Following:
- Core Strength
Yes, Cameron has learned all of the above but she has also learned more
that expected. First, to ask nicely but firmly. When working with horses you cannot be shy; don’t give up and don’t give in. Second, go with the flow. It’s not easy to attend a horse show with a horse you haven’t ridden in a year, because your regular pony is sick. But as Cameron learned, you have to keep moving forward and be okay when life becomes unexpected. Third, be a good sport. My daughter is gracious to the other riders, kind to her horse, and no matter the ribbon she receives she leaves with a smile on her face. Last but not least, my daughter has learned the utmost confidence in herself. Any one who meets my daughter says “I would never know she had a stroke”. We worked really hard to accomplish that. This is a true testament to her personality, she simply shines.
My Daughter is My Hero
I am a timid rider. Sure, I’ve come leaps and bounds over the years but my kid blows me away. She has zero fear, which is terrifying. Apparently while she likes horse shows with flat classes, she prefers to jump. I am informed that not only does she want to be a pop star, teacher, and mother but also a Grand Prix jumper. She makes a conscious decision to challenge herself and take the more difficult path. Something that I have difficulty with in my own life.
Like me, Cameron feels strongly for her animal friends. She has a favorite horse, Woody, that she is madly in love with. We all have one animal who is special to us and I’m happy she’s found that connection.
I’ve often joked that Cameron would never leave her friends and the horses at SPUR, and she agrees. She has gained skill and confidence and can certainly ride at my barn with “typical” lessons. As if she would let me. She is loyal and true.She rides there even though we recently bought a pony of our own. I am so grateful to our friends in the PATH-certified* program for all they have given us.
There are a lot of things I can learn from my daughter. While she has challenges other kids don’t, she is open, honest, and kind. My daughter is someone that I respect and admire. She is my hero, equestrian and otherwise.
Are you feeling inspired? Share now to spread the message.
*PATH INTERNATIONAL. Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), a federally-registered 501(c3) nonprofit, was formed in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association to promote equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) for individuals with special needs.
What a beautiful post! She truly sounds like an amazing girl who many can learn from! Thanks for sharing this…..sometimes the personal ones are so hard – but you never know who you may reach that can benefit from it. And did I mention….horses kind of rock! 🙂
Horses definitely do rock, Jill! And kids and horses? They make an amazing combination.
She rocks!!! What an amazing gal. (Not surprising, knowing her mom!) Can’t wait to follow along with her adventures.
Haha thanks Rochelle! She is definitely a chip off the “young” block between me and her father. We’re both pretty cool LOL
She is my hero too…. Love that kid!
When I told her I published the article, she said “So now we have to do my interview”. That kid!
Wow, Cameron sounds like a real fighter! And kudos to you for raising her, I bet she could not have come this far just by herself! This is a lovely story, and maybe we will see her in the elite in 10 years time? Who knows!
Thank you so much. She’s one in a million and if anyone has the tenacity and ambition to make it in the equestrian world she is! But whatever she chooses to do with her life, she will put all her focus into it.
Not my hero, my Superhero! Nothing gets in her way.
She is Wonder Woman for sure. I am so grateful for her.
Aww this is a very sweet dedication post for your daughter. I love how kids happen to teach us adults valuable life lessons like living in the moment, be fearless and confidence. Well pat yourself on the back mom, you are raising one special young lady. I admire her drive and fearlessness to not let her CP stop her from her dreams.
Thanks Kamira! I wish I could take all the credit but she was a born fighter, and CP has made her stronger.
What a lovely story and an inspiration your daughter is! I used to volunteer with the therapeutic horses and it’s amazing the connections people would make with them and how much these horses would bring people out of themselves.
Therapy horses are definitely unsung heroes. They take on so much from humans and ask for nothing in return. I also volunteer with these horses to give back a little of what they give my daughter.
Such an Inspiring and compassionate child! I wish her endless years of happiness and love with all four legged creatures!
Thank you so much for your beautiful comments.
What an incredible post Heather! I’m so inspired by your daughter, she is really something special. Thank you for sharing this with us, you must be just over- the- moon proud of this girl!! She’s going to accomplish great things in her life, I’m sure of that.
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
Thank you so very much Cathy. I am so proud of her and how she views the world full of possibility. It’s nice to see through her eyes sometimes and be inspired.
Anglea D'Alessandro, MD
So proud of this girl! She is a rock star!
She is definitely a rock star! And a little sassy as you very well know.
Your daughter is beautiful and so inspiring. 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a personal story.
Thank you for reading it and for your kind comments. I was a little nervous to share.
Nothing is going to stop this girl taking on the world and WINNING!!
What a great girl and wow does she love horses 🙂
You can say that again! To be fair she loves horses, soccer, music, and now she wants me to interview her for the blog because she is so happy to have made an impact.
There’s something magical about children and their refusal to let their “limitations” hold them back. It’s great to see your daughter thriving. I’m sure riding has been a huge help to her. She’s an impressive little girl.
Therapeutic riding and horse riding in general can be a huge confidence booster. There is something significant about working with a 1500 lb. animal in harmony.
Being the mother of a daughter with serious health issues I LOVE this post! These kids who go through so much are just amazing! I am so glad she found a love for riding! She looks very fashionable in her gear!
Cameron is definitely a fashionable girl in everything she does! I’m glad that this could strike a chord with you and all the best to your daughter.
Thank you so much Heather.
What an amazing young lady. You should be very proud of her and YOUR parenting! I love that you found a therapeutic center where you can take her to ride. We have one locally and it’s amazing to see the transformation of the riders.
We are fortunate to have a few therapeutic riding centers in the area- and this one is very close. There are so many amazing benefits that cannot be denied. And thank you!
Lola The Rescued Cat
I’m in awe of your daughter. She is resilient and determined and like you said, she is definitely a fighter. I think therapeutic horseback riding is a wonderful therapy that I wish was more readily available. Thanks for sharing Cameron’s story with us.
Thank you for reading. I am often in awe of her as well which prompted my post. She tends to put things in perspective for me.
What an inspiring story. Horses and animals in general can help us overcome difficulties and move us forward since we think more about the animal than ourselves. My niece loved and rode horses as a child. Then she became a horse midwife!
A horse midwife is very cool! I thought I had a niche profession performing massage on horses. Animals give so much and I’m proud that my daughters and I are able to spend time with them regularly.
What an amazing story. Animals bring so much into our lives, be it dogs, cats, or horses.
Thank you and I completely agree. No matter the species animals have so much to give us.
Thanks for sharing Cameron’s story with us! I can see why you are so incredibly proud of her. I’m glad that she was able to participate in SPUR. What a wonderful organization!
Thank you for reading. SPUR is wonderful and we are so blessed to have it close by.
Horses really do make great therapy for anyone and everyone!! I’m based on a Riding for the Disabled riding school, and the benefit that it brings to the children and adults that come for session really is remarkable!
That’s amazing! It’s wonderful to watch people grow from their time with horses. I know it’s wonderful therapy for me as well.
What a wonderful powerful brave girl!
Thank you Roosa! She’s certainly that. 🙂
What a moving post! Horses are amazing for therapy for us all!
Thank you so much. I was moved to write it and am so grateful that it has struck a chord with so many people. I know horses are amazing therapy for me.
Thank you for sharing, what a wonderful story. It’s amazing that kids are so fearless, as parents it can be terrifying to watch! But the joy it brings is pretty magical.
Part of me hopes that she will never lose that fear, although a little fear keeps us safe. She certainly enjoyed the showjumping when I took her to Jersey Fresh International. As a jumper, no fear is a good thing!
So good to see this. She is indeed a hero. I went to school with a person who had CP and she went on to university, got married and had a family. she had a great sense of humor and her CP did not hold her back Your daughter sounds like she will be the same.
I love hearing that! Of course that is what every parent wishes for their child. Most people are surprised when they hear Cameron has CP because it is her personality that shines, and not her limitations.