Riding charity in plea for help

Riding for the Disabled
Riding for the Disabled
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A charity that helps disabled children gain confidence through the love of horses is making a heartfelt call for help.

Fenland Riding for the Disabled Group provides horse riding lessons for children from the Priory and Garth Special Schools in Spalding. The children have special educational needs and some also have physical disabilities.

But the charity needs more volunteers and ponies to be able to keep helping the children who get so much out of their riding lessons.

Group Chairman Jane Peggs said: “We have about 13 children from age 11 who come for lessons in term time.

“They are put into two classes and we aim to have about six to seven ponies so that the children ride them for half an hour then the other class will ride.

“But we are currently struggling to get enough ponies to our sessions (which are on a Wednesday morning at Whaplode St Catherine) and are also very much in need of volunteers to help run the sessions for the children.

“The sessions run from 10am-midday. We have three qualified instructors and the volunteers are there to help encourage the children.”

The group has been running for 35 years and its volunteers have seen the children gain so much from their riding lessons.

Jane said: “Their enjoyment is second to none. There is a genuine affinity between the horses and the children. The horses have a perception of the person that is on their back, they sense that they are carrying a special cargo.

“The schools will agree that riding and being around the animals mean the children are much calmer and they make a bond. Seeing the children gaining confidence and then getting on the saddle, you see a big smile on their faces.

“You can really see an improvement in their confidence. It also helps the children who are less mobile. It helps develop their core muscles, particularly if a child has difficulty walking.

“Once they get up on the ponies they don’t want to get off. It gives them social skills, confidence and improves their independence. The connection between the children and the animals is very powerful.”

• If you can help, either by volunteering or providing a pony (that must be at least six years old) email FenlandRDA@gmail.com or contact Jill Dempster on 07714 775501.