We are a group of enthusiastic, trained volunteers who really believe in the value of riding therapy for disabled adults and children.
We see the improvements to their mobility with strengthened muscles and increased balance as the horse moves through its paces. The younger riders take part in games during their classes which boosts social skills by encouraging turn taking and verbal communication.
A young rider "picking apples" a game
to encourage movement, hand-eye coordination and problem solving
We help them to learn how to treat animals with care and kindness through grooming. We encourage respect for others, the volunteers, their carers and fellow riders. Educational attainment is increased because the physical effort and calming effect of being on a horse improves the riders' concentration. The increased balance and core stability improves fine motor skills therefore using a pencil or tools become easier and smoother so basic life skills are less challenging. The sheer joy the riders get from their ride is immeasurable. They overcome their fears or difficulties and see themselves progress in a sport. This has an effect on their self belief and self worth, which in turn spills over to life beyond the stable, believing that challenges can be overcome.
Riders gain confidence to ride independently
Buxton is 1000 ft above sea level, the winters are long and the summers are short but can be wet, cold and windy. For the last 31 years we have held riding sessions in an open arena, even when it is raining, but the cold and wet has an adverse effect on the riders' mobility, mood, concentration and pleasure. We often have to cancel in the winter months due to snow and frozen ground. This disrupts the continuity of our therapy sessions, and increases the number of volunteers who decide it is not for them.
A roof and walls to an arena would be the answer.
Tilly very miserable in the rain, waiting for the riders.
As we are building a dedicated space for this project it was decided to increase the size to 30 meters by 50 meters. This allows us to expand the opportunities for the disabled members, as well as improve the riding sessions. Therefore when our target has been reached we will be building an arena large enough for disabled riders to practice for dressage competitions, show jumping and carry out disabled carriage driving for wheelchair users in an adapted carriage.
Lindsay ready to compete in the National Championships
The covered arena will be purpose built with disabled access and disabled toilet facilities. The initial cost will be £140,000, some of which has been promised from local trust funds and Sport England. It is planned to be eco-friendly with solar panels to generate electricity which would enable us to run evening lessons and reducing our ever increasing waiting list of disabled people wanting to ride.
With improved warmer and drier facilities we can retain volunteers which will improve continuity for the riders, many of whom have autism and need familiarity. Volunteers say how much their lives have expanded being part of this worthwhile cause. Volunteering has enabled people to gain experience working with disabled people, increased their skills and confidence which has helped them secure full time employment and encouraged some to take up further education. A covered arena will improve and increase volunteers' experience.
This project is exciting because it will make a difference to so many people's lives in the High Peak for many years to come.
An example of what we are aiming to build
The team of volunteers, riders and ponies at the Group's 30th Anniversary