A Cumbria riding centre has been awarded a £2000 grant to help more disabled people to enjoy the benefits of riding and spending time with horses.
Happy Hooves Riding Centre based in Penrith, applied for the funding through the Cumbria Community Foundation, who put them in touch with the Edmond Castle Educational Trust.
The Trust helps support local people and organisations who seek to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged members of their local community.
The centre regularly runs a six week course attended by clients put forward by the Cumbria Health and Care Services, mainly disadvantaged adults and children with learning difficulties.
As an Accessibility Mark accredited centre, the staff at Happy Hooves have under-gone rigorous training by the well-respected Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).
Riding for the Disabled Association, in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation’s participation programme, launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.
It is hoped the financial boost will enable the centre to welcome even more people to enrol on the six week course. The care provider is usually asked to pay just £5 for each participant with the shortfall being made up by the funding.
Happy Hooves owner, Alison Noble, was delighted to have secured the grant.
“This funding makes a real difference to members of our community and allows us to open up our courses to even more people.
“The application process was easy and the staff at the Cumbria Community Foundation were extremely helpful when we were completing all the paperwork to ensure it was done correctly which helped to speed up the whole process.” said Alison.
As many of the clients attending the courses are complete novices, it starts with simply meeting a pony, stroking and grooming to build up confidence and trust, as well as promoting social interaction and communication.
By week six the aim is to progress to tacking up their own pony before riding independently in the arena, with a real sense of achievement and purpose.
“The feedback we get from the clients’ carers is always lovely to read. Time and again my staff are complimented on the excellent support they provide, which is testament to the fantastic training we receive from the RDA through Accessibility Mark.
“We hear of clients going home and talking enthusiastically with their family about their experience, which, in an individual with communication difficulties, is a big stride forward and has a really positive impact on behaviour and gives them something to look forward to each week.
“The reward of seeing someone grow in confidence makes it all worthwhile. Horses really are amazing at bringing out the best in people,” added Alison.
Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.
For further information contact Alison Noble on 01768 862153.
There are currently 38 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.
To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk