Colm has had many riding lessons, but few as important as yesterday's.
And this is why...
Our local branch of the Riding for the Disabled Association provides riding lessons during school term time. This means that during the summer, it is closed for lessons for 5 weeks.
Five weeks is an eternity to Colm, if it means 5 weeks without riding. So we looked around for somewhere else to go during the summer - somewhere that would be sympathetic to Colm's peculiar needs. We found such a place - or so we thought - near Ilminster, thus not far from where Colm lives.
Colm was well pleased with his new riding school and, despite all the staff and all the horses being new to him, adjusted extremely well. The first weeks were very enjoyable, but then there came a point where the inexperience of trainer and horse of having pupils like Colm began to show. The owner of the school was taking a lesson with Colm and moving things a bit too fast... She tried to get Colm to do a small jump while cantering. Colm looked uneasy and tried to object, but she ordered him to continue. His lack of confidence caused him to let the reigns go loose. The lack of direction caused the horse to refuse the jump. Colm went sailing over the horse's head, landing heavily on his side.
Colm got to his feet quickly, but looked shaken and very distressed.
"My arm," he said to the trainer.
"It's only a bad bump," said the trainer. "Come up here and we'll get you on the horse again."
I knew from Colm's demeanour that it was more than a bad bump, and went over to the trainer to tell her so. She argued with me and wanted Colm to continue with his lesson, but I wasn't having any of it. I took Colm to the car and then speedily to the hospital.
An x-ray proved that my suspicion had been well founded. Colm had broken his wrist. An hour or so later he was wearing a rather large plaster. Throughout the 3 hours we had been at the hospital, Colm had been the model patient. He was compliant in every respect.
His first plaster was rather heavy, made him very itchy and became quite tight, which affected Colm's disposition. He became a more than a little tetchy, so it was a relief when, after x-rays showed that all was as well as could be hoped for, this was replaced by a smaller, lighter one. The healing process continued and last week the plaster was declared redundant and removed. Colm's wrist is as good as new.
This week Colm went back to the RDA centre. His delight at returning there - the moment he had been anticipating for all those weeks - was obvious for all to see.
Apart from some issues arising from his broken wrist, Colm's life continues to improve. He has been 2 years at his current address, and he is now in his most settled period since leaving home 7 years ago. The 3 sisters who live in Taunton take him out regularly and he visits Marie and me from time to time. He seems very satisfied with this arrangement, and now when he comes to our house for dinner, is ready to leave after a couple of hours. Progress indeed.
Oh yes - the other riding school - Colm won't be going back there!