The healing power of horses

Martine Fremaux – How the healing power of horses helps me live positively and successfully despite having Scleroderma…

I felt I would like to tell everyone the things Martine has achieved after her Scleroderma diagnosis including her riding, because her news is inspiring and positive. Setting goals which require confidence, strong motivation and hard work have assisted her to
overcome the pains, fears, trials and tribulations of living with Scleroderma.

Martine was diagnosed with Scleroderma 5 years ago. At the time of diagnosis, she was not working. She lives on a life-style block with her husband Neil, her son Zane, 4 horses, 8 chickens, 2 dogs and 2 cats! Martine has a life-long love of horses. An integral part of her journey towards recovery was walking down to the horses to feed them every day. That gradually lead to her riding them, for 10 minutes a week.

Having managed the challenges of looking after horses and starting riding again, led to Martine starting a Mātauranga Māori degree. This was no mean feat in itself because a component of this intense degree involved seven-day courses which started at 6am and finished at 9pm. Several sleeps were needed during those courses, but a stubborn determination ensured she finished the degree, after three years of blood, sweat and tears!

She then returned to work as an Early Childhood Teacher, where despite several work challenges, her health took a turn for the better. “Chris, one of the reasons my health improved so drastically was, as an ECE teacher you are on the move all day.” Martine is
now a Mentor Teacher for a major educational provider in Auckland. She flies to Auckland every two months for two weeks at a time, as mentoring for all the teachers of six ECE centres keeps her busy.

At the beginning of 2019, Martine returned to long distance horse riding. Martine’s first trek was a 17- kilometre fund-raiser trek at Stormy Point. Stormy Point is a working sheep and beef hill country farm, so the terrain is steep, very steep.

On her Facebook page, Martine wrote: “Survived a 5- hour, 17- kilometre horse trek. Not a gentle stroll in the countryside as anticipated. More like a high-speed horse chase UP HILLS and DOWN HILLS – VERY, VERY STEEP HILLS WITH ‘NO” PATHS. Thank you to Tag, my faithful steed who; jumped thistle bushes somewhat higher than needed, fell down a hole, cantered (e.g. fast) scaled precipices, and oh walked (yeah, nah).

Thank you to Neil for being my support person!” She now regularly rides up to 3 hours and 20 kilometres without stopping (other than for a quick breather). Her passions, such as horse-riding and teaching, interlinked with a positive attitude and the ability to keep
physically moving despite pain, has enabled Martine to seize all she can get out of life. “Every day I get fitter and stronger” was her comment to me. Taking the time to rest has reduced from 2-3 days on the sofa to soaking in the hot-tub and a few hours rest.

Surrounding herself with positive friends and a very supportive husband, has enabled Martine to overcome her challenges with Scleroderma. Her life is her family, horses, friends (new and old), farm and mentoring of other truly exceptional people, all encouraging her to strive to make the most out of her life. “I will not allow Scleroderma to be my life” was her parting comment to

By Chris Carlyon