"After two years of watching my mother lose a battle with cancer, I found myself on a downwards spiral, having pressed the 'self-destruct' button, both mentally and physically. I had no self-confidence, was wracked with guilt and self-loathing.
I had ridden as a child, and somehow I found myself on the phone to Penny...
I went to the stables, not really knowing why or what for, and for the first few weeks if Penny asked how I was, tears just rolled down my cheek, but with Penny's quiet calmness and Bluey's stoicism, I have come through the other side of my depression, (without pills!).
Through riding, I recognised some of my weakness' and strengths. I have met wonderful people and made equine friends. South Nethercott is my retreat, a place of tranquility and freedom, no hidden agenda, just pure honesty from humans and horses.
I feel I now have the skills to build my confidence again and take back control of my life. Both friends and family have noticed 'me' coming back.
I can't emphasize strongly enough the difference South Nethercott, and all its residence, human, canine and equine have made to mine, and my families future..... I can actually see a future now.
Tory - Devon
"I have MS and have difficulty walking. I adore the countryside and used to like nothing better than putting on my walking boots and setting off for a good walk in the country with my husband. MS has curtailed all this - we now have to find pathways that are suitable for pushing my wheelchair which is not easy.
However, I decided riding might be one way round the problem – the four good legs of a horse under me might be better than my two bad ones! Problem though – I have never ridden, even as a child, so know nothing about horses.
Trailing the internet one day I came across Penny Hill’s website about her “Centre for caring Horsemanship” down in Devon near Okehampton. I realized that she is open to teaching riding to people of all different abilities and different physical abilities. Was this for me? Perhaps she could cope with my “wobbly legs” and total lack of knowledge of horses – a tall order. But I decided to ring her and see what she would say. She was extremely encouraging and gave me enough confidence to commit 4 days in Devon away from my usual life in London.
It was wonderful. There was a beautiful gentle horse named Gerty waiting for me in an indoor stable. Penny and her daughter were also there to give me their undivided attention for the hour (I had 6 lessons). Penny would always start her lessons with explanations about everything to do with horses from how they felt about being ridden to how to clearly give directions through body movements, breathing and the reins. Getting on and off the horse was difficult given my condition, but once on, I felt safe as I was always on the leading rein to begin with. However, towards the end of the 4 days, I was allowed to do a little on my own. We also went out down some country lanes for a walk.
Altogether, a hugely enjoyable adventure. Obviously only a small beginning and I must now go on and find somewhere nearer home where I could get a similar experience.
But I am thrilled to have been shown that I can do it – I was not sure I could!"