Happy Hooves Making Happy Lives with Accessibility Mark

A Cumbria riding centre has become the latest equestrian establishment to take up a national initiative aimed at providing more opportunities for disabled riders to get involved in sport and activities.

Based just outside Penrith on the banks of the river Eamont, Happy Hooves Riding Centre decided to apply for Accessibility Mark accreditation after owner Alison Noble heard about the scheme through her work as an examining assessor for the British Horse Society.

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), in partnership with Hoof, the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) participation programme launched the Accessibility Mark scheme to encourage those who do not already partake in equestrian activities or would not usually have the opportunity to do so, to experience the many benefits that riding can bring.

Happy Hooves offers a wide range of services from the normal individual and group riding lessons to exam training and Own a Pony days using their first class facilities and professional staff, so the Accessibility Mark accreditation is a positive step to provide more riding opportunities for all.

The centre also boasts the use of ‘Mr Williams’, the mechanical horse, and Happy Hooves were one of the first centres to have access to the specialist RDA programme installed on Mr Williams.

Having the use of a mechanical horse is hugely beneficial especially to nervous riders, as they can experience the feel of a horse without the fear of any sudden movement as can occur with a live animal, regardless of how well-behaved they are.

Mr Williams also allows the instructor to correct a rider’s position in a safe environment and benefits those who tire easily, a common problem with some disabilities.

Happy Hooves owner Alison Noble said: “The Accessibility Mark accreditation acknowledges the good standards of practice we aim to achieve and allows us to give something back to the community by opening up more avenues for disabled riders to enjoy the benefits that riding and spending time with horses can bring to people’s lives.

“We aim to specialise in providing opportunities for people with autism and learning difficulties as well as disadvantaged youngsters and those that have been excluded from school, by using horses to  help with social skills, and developing teamwork, which is something people with autism can sometimes struggle with,” 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 they offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure they provide you with a first class service and an experience that aims to be hugely beneficial. There are currently 27 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

Find out more about Accessibility Mark and a list of the accredited centres by clicking this link: www.rda.org.uk/taking-part/accessibility-mark

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Page Last Updated: April 12, 2016