Weekly riding sessions help Lenore to breathe

By Michele McPherson

For Lenore Pope, being on horseback means escaping the airway clearance vest she hates.
Her weekly sessions with her mount "Missy" at Tauranga Riding for the Disabled provide the plucky 4-year-old the daily physio the she needs to slow the effects of the terminal lung condition cystic fibrosis.
Lenore's parents, Karen and Tom Pope, had two sons Thomas, now aged eight, and Jack, 6, when their daughter was born with the genetic condition which means chronic chest infections, antibiotics and regular trips to Tauranga and Starship Hospitals.
It also means spending 30 minutes a day wearing an airway clearance vest, something Lenore avoids each Thursday by attending RDA.
"It's a fun way for her of having her physio so it saves one fight a week. The more active she stays, the longer we can try to keep her lungs scar-free so she has her full lung function," Mrs Pope said.
She contacted RDA after reading an article which said horse riding was helpful for people with respiratory conditions.
"They said it's good physio for airway clearance because of all the up and down movement."
Mrs Pope said her independent young daughter had been a natural on horse back since arriving at the Welcome Bay grounds in the second term of last year.
"Horse riding helps with the physio, it helps keep her fit and active, as well as all the other benefits."
The brave little girl said she enjoyed trotting on Missy who she considers her own.
"She's a nice horse," she said.
Mrs Pope said for herself and her husband, Lenore's arrival had been, "quite an awakening".


"She had four hospital admissions in the first two years of life. She'll have to have physio and check-ups for the rest of her life - everything for the rest of her life. She knows she has to go to hospital so she just does it."
Lenore's medical regime includes three-monthly trips to Tauranga Hospital to see a pediatric nurse, physio, have a chest X-ray and treatment as well as six-monthly trips to Auckland for check ups at Starship.
"She tires easily especially when she's getting sick. She gets lots of coughs and colds. Even when she's sick she pushes herself, she's got a determination that my boys don't have," Mrs Pope said.
Lenore has a life expectancy of 40 to 50.
"Which is a lot better than 15 years ago when they were lucky to get through the teenage years," Mrs Pope said.
Mrs Pope said her daughter's condition had made her grow up fast, leaving her more than ready to follow in her brothers' footsteps to Maungatapu School.
"She wants to do that now, she thinks she's ready for school now," Mrs Pope said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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