If you're feeling like today might be a bit if a struggle, then say Hi to Matt.
Matthew’s story is full of bigger obstacles and more hurdles than most of us could ever imagine.
Twenty-two year old Matthew Dalley was born with a brain condition called Pachygyria. As a result, he has significant muscle weakness and co-ordination problems.
He is also autistic, an ADHD sufferer, and has some learning difficulties. On top of this, Matthew is a profoundly deaf sign language user who cannot talk or lip read.
Despite these challenges, Matthew is a competitive Jumper and spends his spare time volunteering and working, giving back as much to the community as he can.
Matthew Dalley was only six years old the first time he went to a Riding for the Disabled Centre, but a lifelong love and passion was sparked on that very first day.
When asked why, Matthew’s reply is simple;
“Being with horses makes me feel calmer and more focused. Riding has helped my confidence, given me a purpose and targets to work towards, and developed my physical strength and co-ordination. All these things have helped me cope with the challenges of everyday life.”
Matthew is fiercely determined and lives by himself in supported living with some great support workers and his family close by. He makes the most of the hand he has been dealt, though says that his life is a “constant challenge” due to his autism, which makes it “very hard to be with people and to fit in with things that are going on around me.”
In order to cope, Matthew turns to his horses. He needs a lot of time and space on his own to handle the pressure of everyday life, but horses provide some welcome respite.
“For me, communicating with horses is probably much easier than with people! Horses aren’t bothered about disabilities or deafness. We communicate through body language and that works just fine. I definitely find it easier to be with horses than with people” says Matthew.
Frankly, we agree entirely!
“My days revolve mainly around my riding and volunteer work. Time with my horse and riding always makes me feel good and I ride four or five times a week. I’ve always found being with horses and riding makes me feel so much better. When I was growing up and other things were difficult in my life, riding was the one thing that really worked for me.”