Disability no barrier for Wendy’s equestrian pursuits

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We all know that feeling when we meet someone who shares our passions. The excited anticipation of meeting a kindred spirit whose love equals your own. This was what happened when Aberdeen local Wendy found her support worker Janell. A love of horses unites the pair and has seen them travel throughout NSW to watch them compete.

For the love of horses

Wendy suffers from Huntington's disease, a genetic neurodegenerative condition, and was facing the heartbreaking possibility she may have to give up her beloved horses.

"I have had a passion for horses all of my life," Wendy said. “I had been competing in dressage for 20 years, but I have been unable to compete myself since being diagnosed with Huntington’s. I have also been breeding horses myself for many years and have had to pay people to train them instead of being able to train them myself before selling them on.”

A chance recommendation by her genetics counsellor John Connegan from Huntington’s NSW led Wendy to approach Challenge Disability Services and our support worker Janell, who has experience working with people with Huntington’s. And what a lucky chance it was! The camaraderie between Wendy and Janell is clear, and the pair take pleasure in sharing their hobby.

A helping hand

I don’t know about you, but it’s rare that I know what I’ll be doing from one week to the next. Just like me, no week is the same for Wendy and Janell. That’s the beauty of the NDIS, having control of your funding means you have the flexibility to match the services you use to what you require from week to week, or year to year.

While Janell supports Wendy 20 hours per week, the tasks they accomplish depend on what Wendy wishes to achieve at the time. Janell helps with cooking, cleaning, emailing, feeding the horses and also supports Wendy on her equestrian adventures. Just like everyone else, some days Wendy feels tired and doesn’t need Janell’s assistance. Thankfully, the NDIS funding arrangement allows for this.

Meeting your needs

I always dread having to go to the doctors; any appointment or meeting fills me with fear. Mainly because I always forget everything I need, or can’t seem to describe what’s going on accurately.

Janell’s support in preparing and attending medical and allied health appointments has allowed Wendy to request help to maintain her independence. A recent occupational therapist assessment has resulted in the trial of a scooter with a specially-designed hay trailer, so Wendy can independently feed her horses. The pair are understandably excited about using the new equipment.

"The scooter allows Wendy to continue to care for her horses without falling in the paddock," Janell said. "Hopefully, she will get permanent approval from the NDIA for this in the next couple of months."

And Janell’s efforts are not the only help Challenge provides Wendy. She regularly enlists the support of Challenge Business Services Koora Industries to clean and rake the stables, clean her car and they also whipper snip and mow the lawn.

Equestrian adventures

The pair are adventurers, following Wendy’s horses around NSW’s equestrian circuit to great success, including qualification for national and international competitions.

It was an exciting trip when Wendy and Janell visited Sydney in March. Wendy’s horses successfully competed in the Elizabeth Farm Horse of the Year Show at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre.

"Due to my condition I am on a restricted license and need to stop every hour, so it was a long trip to Sydney," Wendy said.

"The winners of this competition go on to the national competition in Melbourne, it was great to be there as one of my horses qualified for the national competition. One of my other horses also competed in Richmond recently and at an international competition in Sydney in April."

Hopefully, Wendy and Janell can keep us updated on their equestrian adventure, I know I want to find out more!

Community contribution

Not content with only caring for her horses, Wendy is known for looking after the Aberdeen community too. Volunteering at the Upper Hunter Riding for the Disabled Association and local Lions Club activities are both on her regular agenda.

She also participates in an international study at Westmead Hospital in Sydney for people with Huntington’s, and encourages others living with the disease to “hang in there” until they find a cure.

"While there is no cure, I want to get the word out to other people with Huntington’s about the services being offered by Challenge Disability Services under the NDIS," Wendy said.

"With the support we provide we can help Wendy, and others suffering from Huntington’s disease, to continue to do the things they love," Janell said.

Want help to pursue your passions? Check out the Challenge Disability Services website for more information on how the NDIS can provide you with more independence, or fill out the enquiry form to arrange for one of our team members to get in touch with you.

Author: Katrina Warmoll

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About Challenge Community Services

60 years ago we were a small band of parents and friends seeking support services for our children with disabilities. Today, Challenge has grown to be one of the largest community support services in New South Wales. We provide support to over 2 500 people from Albury to Lismore, Sydney, Dubbo, Tamworth and beyond. With over 600 staff, 85 of which have a disability, we strive to comply with and exceed all standards required under State and Federal Acts.

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