From the ages of 7-12, Ella had Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a neuropathic pain disorder that makes nerve endings misfire telling her brain that she is in unimaginable pain. It went and the family hadn’t expected it to return, but at the age of 14, it did and has once again caused Ella to live with acute chronic pain.
There is no medication to take the pain away, only to help calm the nerve endings and with the pain currently in both legs, Ella has to use crutches and a wheelchair at times. It also flares up in her arms on occasions causing further difficulty. She easily tires, has significant mental health challenges caused by CRPS and requires much support both physically and mentally.
I honestly believe that spending time with the horses, alongside the fantastic team at Manor Farm will positively and permanently change your life and that of the family.
CRPS Impacts the Entire Family
Ella’s CRPS has impacted the entire family, with mum, Charlotte, giving up work to become a full-time carer.
Charlotte says ‘We’ve tried many other therapies from Indian head massage to arts and crafts, all of which helped, but nothing like EAQ Manor Farm. It’s the only thing Ella has wanted to continue with, and we see a lift in her spirits after every session. It also ticks many other boxes – being outside in the fresh air, physio (without realising it) and interacting with other adults. Ella also suffers from hyperalgesia and allodynia from the CRPS and so touching and grooming the animals helps to desensitise her skin.
When we arrived for our first session Ian and Kerry were very welcoming, reassuring, understanding, patient and just magnificent at putting us at ease. We loved our first session and immediately knew we needed to make it a regular appointment. Finances were very difficult, and Ian directed me to different places to access grants to help support Ella’s sessions. They have also helped at multi-professional meetings in regard to Educational Health Care Plans, always showing great knowledge and support.
Ella has been attending EAQ for about two years and is studying for the OCNLR Award for Skills in Animal Welfare and Management, although at present she is attending horse therapy simply as a means to remain calm.
She is learning through positive relationships which have improved her confidence and self-esteem. Her social and emotional skills have also become more apparent. Ella has had some very dark moments and when lockdown occurred and Ella was unable to attend EAQ Manor Farm, her emotional health really dipped. Her sessions are the one thing that gives her the opportunity to be independent and help others. As parents, we feel that Ella’s time at Manor Farm is why she is able to still be alive. We truly believe that it has literally saved her life.
My husband and I wanted to be able to give something back and volunteered to do some gardening work. It makes me feel happier and healthier and takes me away from all of my concerns about Ella’s health. As I am not able to work currently, I find it empowering to be able to help develop areas in the butterfly garden and wellness area which can be enjoyed by the other users and staff. I also think that seeing us enjoying ourselves, in turn, helps Ella as she often says she feels guilty that we don’t do enough to look after ourselves, and so it’s cathartic all round. She loves us accompanying her but allowing her space and time alone with Kerry.
We have also had a session with Ella’s brother working alongside her and also her Uncle who has helped finance some of the sessions. She loved showing them the horses and passing on her knowledge. We plan to have a session where Grandma can attend alongside her, (she has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Ella feels it would really support her Grandma’s emotional health too).
Ella has recently said she cannot see a future, that there is nothing worth living for and that she has no hope of ever getting through this difficult time, but on the days when she is at Manor Farm, working alongside the horses she finds a distraction and relaxation to get away from the pain and sustains better sleep. She can be socially withdrawn or mute, however, she is learning to be more confident at her own pace around other people and has learnt to trust the staff at EAQ to be able to communicate with them.
She really looks forward to her days doing horse therapy and regardless of what her pain and mobility are like she makes a real effort to attend. Her physical health is improving steadily with some better range of movements and an increase in stamina being outside.
Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is a unique learning experience that uses horses as active participants; it does not involve riding and no prior experience with horses is required. Horses make perfect learning partners as their natural responses provide immediate and honest feedback to your actions and behaviour giving you a deeper understanding of yourself. I honestly believe that spending time with the horses, alongside the fantastic team at Manor Farm will positively and permanently change your life and that of the family.’