A local volunteer at Cayman Cowboy Town Stables helped a first-time visitor to the island get back in the saddle after more than 40 years.
Doctors had told Rande Davis Gedaliah, 66, she would never ride again after she broke her back in a horse riding accident when she was 18.
Thanks to therapeutic horsemanship instructor Shanna Pandohie and volunteers Marlene Smith and Kirk Frater, the New York City resident rode again this week.
“I love horse riding and to be able to do it again after all these years – and on my birthday – I cannot thank Marlene and the people at the stables enough,” she said.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2003, Mrs. Davis Gedaliah, a public speaking coach, met Ms. Smith at Morritt’s Tortuga Club and Grand Resort in East End, where she was vacationing with her husband Robert.
Ms. Smith noticed Mrs. Davis Gedaliah having difficulty getting her wheelchair through a door, so helped her. She later had lunch with Mrs. Davis Gedaliah and found out she had been a champion horse rider.
“She said she was a volunteer at Cayman Cowboy Town Stables, which helped people ride for therapeutic reasons,” said Mrs. Davis Gedaliah, “and she drove all the way to the hotel to pick me up so I could ride again.
Ms. Davis Gedaliah, who cannot move her legs with ease and has trouble with balance, laughed, joked and poked fun at her own clumsiness at the stable as Ms. Smith got her into boots and riding gear.
“We got her on the horse, walked around for a little bit and then she said, ‘Can I trot?’ To hear the laughter and joy in her voice was something else. There was not a dry eye at the stable,” Ms. Smith said, adding, “She just sat down and cried.”
Her husband said he had not seen his wife that way in years and marveled at how quickly she had bonded with her horse Freckles. “What a wonderful birthday present it was,” he said.