Finn Mylchreest is our longest attending RDA rider at Vauxhall City Farm. He doesn’t come from an equine background and his mother Fiona would never have thought to put her fragile, autistic, non verbal son on a horse, not least because when he first started, he hated wearing hats.
Finn started riding with us at the age of 7 years old with his primary school. His teacher at the time believed that horses helped students with autism and other disabilities, so Finn and his class came and regularly rode at the farm.
When Finn’s mother came down to watch him ride with his school she explained that “We could not believe the transformation in Finn. He sat on the horse, and he didn’t speak and the horse didn’t speak and they went back to instincts and body language; and the horse understood him. I think Finn, who had very little language then, felt more understood than he ever had.”
Finn got used to coming to ride at the farm and he was very focused in the saddle, which is something we notice with all of our RDA riders.
Eventually it got to the point when school riding came to an end for Finn and his mother Fiona couldn’t take something he loved so much away from him. Fiona signed Finn up to private lessons and he has ridden every week since. Finn, now 18 years old, looks forward to riding with us each week and has a special bond with his instructors and our horse Billy.
“We could not believe the transformation in Finn. He sat on the horse, and he didn’t speak and the horse didn’t speak and they went back to instincts and body language and the horse understood him. I think Finn, who had very little language then, felt more understood than he ever had.”
Finn’s mother Fiona has explained that there were times when Finn was aggressive and volatile and says that she doesn’t always know what’s wrong, due to Finns lack of speech. Fiona is very supportive of our team here and has always been calm and patient, helping us, to help Finn. There have been times where having a good trot around the arena has made Finn feel better, and there have also been times where Finn would go home without riding.
The most rewarding thing for us on the riding team is Fiona explaining that both herself and Finn have “Always, Always felt welcomed and wanted.”
Finn has severe and complex autism and concomitant learning difficulties. He is calmed by routine and by horses, as well as trampolines! (Unfortunately we don’t have a trampoline at the farm, and horses really don’t like going on them!)
We cherish watching riders like Finn progress with us at the farm. Building that relationship with riders, parents and carers is something we love, as it helps us to deliver the best lessons we can.
The farm is a special place and we try our hardest to keep riders like Finn and his Mother Fiona happy.