Innovative Accreditation awarded to Equestrian Facilities
Grove Farm Riding School near Rye, East Sussex and Barguse Riding Centre near St Austell, Cornwall are the latest riding facilities to have been accredited with the Accessibility Mark (March 2015). The innovative award aims to increase the number of riding opportunities available to people with disabilities in England by furnishing facilities with the appropriate skill set.
The Accessibility Mark was developed in 2013 by Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) in partnership with Hoof, the British Equestrian Federation's participation programme. Insight suggests 18% of the population in England have a disability and that there is currently a far greater demand for horse riding than RDA Groups are able to accommodate at present. Accessibility Mark aims to bridge this gap.
Set in the idyllic village of Iden near Rye on the Kent/Sussex border, the instructors of Grove Farm Riding School were inspired to get involved in the initiative thanks to a group of local ladies; "we had been giving some ladies who have learning difficulties lessons and got so much enjoyment from it ourselves that we wanted to take this offering a step further" explained Centre Proprietor Louise Pain.
"We know there are long waiting lists and not enough opportunities to ride for people with disabilities out there so we were keen to play our part in relieving that pressure. The training was really interesting, we were blindfolded and asked to ride to experience what it feels like for people with visual impairment - it really increased our awareness of what someone on board may be experiencing."
There are undisputed benefits for people with disabilities taking part in riding activities; the warmth and three dimensional movement of the horse is transmitted through the rider's body, gradually making it more relaxed and supple, strengthening core stability, reducing spasms and improving balance, posture and co-ordination. Gaining confidence, building relationships, receiving life-enhancing therapy or achieving individual goals are all proven benefits of participating in horse riding activities.
For more information about Accessibility Mark or to contact Grove Farm Riding School or Barguse Riding Centre please visit www.rda.org.uk/taking-part/accessibility-mark/