Adam’s condition improves at a canter

A love of horses is helping a Flintshire man overcome a  debilitating neurological condition.

Adam Couchman, 27, from Leeswood, near Mold, rides at the Clwyd Special Riding Centre in Llanfynydd, Wrexham.

The IT Technician, who works at the Welsh-medium high school, Ysgol Maes Garmon, in Mold, has been riding at the centre since he was seven years old.

Adam has Dyspraxia which affects his movements and co-ordination because brain messages aren’t accurately transmitted to the body.

He said: “Coming to the centre has helped me in a lot of ways. When I came here my balance was really bad so I couldn’t walk that well.

“Horse riding helped me to be able to balance properly and because my balance is better I’m a lot more outgoing and more prepared to go out and do things.

“It has also helped me with my speech and my confidence. Before I wouldn’t speak to people because I was very scared of how they would react to me. I still find it difficult to hear certain sounds.”

“Horse riding at the centre has given me a lot of enjoyment and has given me the chance to meet a lot of new people.

Centre Manager Pippa Hattan, who’s run equestrian centres in Spain, Malaysia, Australia and Hong Kong as well as the UK, is well aware of the positive impact horse riding can have on people’s lives.

She said: “The movement of the horse is one of the closest actions that the brain can actually comprehend and pick up and it’s also closest to the human walk.

“For example if someone’s has had an accident there is a chance that the neurological pathways can apparently rebuild on the movement of the horse.

“Not only can it help the walking and the mobility but it can also have a psychological impact and boost people’s confidence which can help people with their speech.

The Clwyd Special Riding Centre caters for 200 riders a week and is home to 23 horses and ponies.

The Centre of Excellence is run by eight members of staff as well as an army of volunteers, headed by 12 Trustees.

The impressive facilities include an indoor arena, an outdoor arena, a 1.5 km track, offices, staff accommodation.

Among those who use the facilities regularly are Wrexham, Dyffryn Ceiriog and Hope Mountain Riding for the Disabled Association groups.

The centre is the only one of its kind in the UK to provide holiday accommodation for disabled riders.

The centre has hosted groups from as far afield as Poland, Kosovo, Chernobyl, Russia and Hong Kong.

Phillip Gerrard Jones, a Trustee of the charity, said:  “We provide people with additional needs the opportunity to ride, carriage drive or equestrian vault to benefit their health and well being.

“We need £5,000 a week just to keep going. It’s a frightening amount and we have to work extremely hard to keep the money coming in – every donation we receive is a big help.

Phillip is delighted with the way Britain’s Paralympians performed at London 2012.

He said: “I’m very proud of our Paralympians, and the Team GB  horse people did exceptionally well both in the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Adam has been inspired by the London 2012 Paralympics and thinks it will help change people’s perceptions of disability.

He said: I think it’s helped inform people about disability and understand more about the disabilities that are out there.

“It’s certainly helped me learn more about other disabilities disabilities”

Adam has competed at the RDA National Championships, held in Hartpury College, Gloucestershire.

He said: “I’ve competed the past two years doing various dressage competitions and I enjoy it a lot”

Adam’s condition has improved to such a degree that he is now able to help others.

He said: “As well as coming to the centre to ride once a week I also volunteer every Tuesday as a side walker.

“Sometimes people are not stable on a horse as I might be so as a side walker my job is to support them to make sure they’re safe.

“You could say that coming here has enabled me to help other people.”

For more information about Clwyd Special Riding Centre and how to make a donation go to or ring 01352 770446.


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