Hi, I am Mary and I turned 18 on Tuesday 10 September. I was adopted by Katleen Verschoore when I was 2 and half years old so I moved to the small town of McGregor in the Western Cape (South Africa). The traumatic start to my life contributed to me being diagnosed as learning challenged early on in primary school. I just could not cope in a regular classroom, not only academically but also emotionally as I am highly sensitive. Being in a special needs class from age 11 to 16 was great as I could learn at my own pace and the level i could cope with. I left school with an ability to read and write at Grade 2 level but received a reward for outstanding leadership, the only one of all the learners that year.
My first encounter with a horse was at age 10. Wow that was quite something! I loved feeling the horse under me. At my second lesson I fell off but I was determined to get back on and at that moment my adoptive mom knew I had to continue with horse riding. Anything else that was challenging I gave up on.
I did not look back and I had lessons twice a week for four years at the Breede Valley Equestrian in Robertson where the trainers Leandi and Careen not only gave me an excellent training but also became my second moms. I felt accepted and valued for what I could do well and I never felt less than any of the other students.
First I participated only in showing but later, after I learned jumping, which is my absolute best, I also participated in jumping shows.
When turning 16 I left school and started going four afternoons a week to the riding school. My trainers allowed me to start training the younger children which I enjoy very much. But my special talent is to work with the horses that are young, traumatized and/or difficult. I seem to have an empathy that allows me to get close to horses like that and to work wth them. I have trained several horses by now.
Please go to my mom's facebook page for write-ups and photographs of all my endeavours.
In the mornings I occasionally help out at an Educare, assist my mom with her work at the Breede Centre where she organizes an Afterschool Programme, assist with pony camps in Bredasdorp and Robertson and I am preparing for my learner's licence.
As my mom wants me to have a qualification so I will be able to look after myself and be independent one day we started to investigate possibilities. We came across Oaklane Equestrian Centre in Villiersdorp run by Hillary Pelser. They offer an EQASA accredited course (Equine Qualifications Authority of South Africa) in Stable Management (2 modules) and Horsemastership (1 module) in year one.
See their website - https://oaklane-equestrian-centre.weebly.com/
When visiting Oaklane and after being interviewed by Hillary, I was so happy that she did not hesitate to accept me for the first three modules, regardless of my learning challenges. There are only 4 first year students accepted and I am one of them!!!
I will be boarding and go home every two weeks for the weekend. The course takes 10 months to complete.
The cost of the first year training is ZAR 90,000.00 with an additional cost of ZAR 5,000.00 for exams.
Acquiring a qualification will fulfil my deepest dream of working with horses all day every day and at the same time enable me to become independent and earn a living.
I value any contribution to making my dream become a reality.