Local riding group appeals for help

A local group, which has provided people with special needs access to horse riding facilities for over 40 years, are appealing for help in order to continue.

North Staffs Riding for the Disabled are in urgent need of help, The running of the group and manning the riding sessions is labour intensive, and they need new volunteers to lead a pony, sidewalk with a rider or help with paperwork.

The activity of horse riding has many benefits for people with special needs. The motion of a horse mirrors the actions of human muscles so riding provides unique benefits for balance, muscle tone and coordination. It may even be a rare opportunity to be out of a wheelchair and looking down on the world. Imperceptibly, and in an atmosphere of fun, challenges are met and overcome engendering pride in achievement and self-esteem.

Generally, riders start with a team of two or three, a leader and two sidewalkers; often they progress to riding on their own with minimal support. The helpers chose the role they prefer, and they are given appropriate training and support in all the tasks undertaken.

The group operates at Poplars Farm Riding School, Meir Heath ST3 7NY, on Mondays during school term time with three sessions running between 12.15 and 3.15pm but helpers are not expected to do all three. As the work is outside, they have a mid-winter break. Training is offered (but helpers would never be asked to step out of their comfort zone) so no prior experience with horses is necessary. Initially, an RDA form and a Disclosure and Barring Service application will be required,  but we guidance will be given with both.

Erica Pinfold, from the riding school, said “It’s not only the riders who benefit! Our volunteers get plenty of fresh air and exercise in busy but companionable riding sessions which are topped off with tea and cake. Our term time sessions fit in with school terms. If fresh air isn’t your thing, we also need help with admin tasks and publicity.”

For more information, email, or ring 01785 813510.

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