Heavy rain failed to dampen the spirit of visitors to a special event held to mark Disabled Access Day, at Happy Hooves Riding Centre in Penrith, Cumbria.
As an Accessibility Mark accredited centre, the event was an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits of horse riding for people with physical and learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems.
Disabled Access Day is all about creating new opportunities for disabled people to try something new and highlight the fantastic facilities that already exist, as well as the welcoming environment that venues offer.
Happy Hooves are the proud owners of a mechanical horse known as Mr Williams and everyone began with a ride on the horse simulator before getting to experience riding a real horse on a short hack in the countryside.
For some children, initially riding a real horse can be intimidating, so riding Mr Williams can be a real ice breaker, which was the case on the day, as a few of the children that were reluctant to ride at first, then asked to ride a real horse, after enjoying the experience on the horse simulator.
The hands on involvement continued with a grooming session, which demonstrated that just spending time with horses can be therapeutic.
Following strong support from local media the event attracted people of all ages and abilities, including a local organisation that brought along a group of children with learning difficulties, who are all going to return on a monthly basis.
Happy Hooves owner Alison Noble said: “The event proved a real success despite the horrendous weather and everyone that came booked future lessons. It was wonderful to see parents immediately recognise the benefits to their children in such a short visit.
“In the days following the event I have also had other people ask to come and look around our centre as well as phone calls from organisations who are interested in the services we offer. For us, getting involved with Disabled Access Day has been an incredibly positive experience that will also hopefully lead to the start of many people enjoying life-enhancing involvement with horses.”
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 they offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure they provide a first class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.
For more information about Disabled Access Day please visit www.disabledaccessday.com.
To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk.