29 August 2018
A national scheme to encourage more disabled people to take up horse riding has reached a golden milestone with 50 equestrian centres now holding the Accessibility Mark accreditation.
The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with riding centres with the aim of opening up more opportunities for disabled people to participate in riding.
Sparsholt College in Hampshire, signed up for the scheme following successfully meeting all the criteria set out by the RDA and completing the training to become the 50th Accessibility Mark centre.
Accessibility Mark started out as a unique pilot project in 2014 with a small number of centres contributing to equestrian sports Olympic and Paralympic legacy, to build on the phenomenal rise in awareness of disability sport that London 2012 created.
The idea behind commercial riding centres attaining the accreditation is to encourage them to open their doors to more disabled riders after extensive research found that there is a high unmet demand for riding opportunities for disabled people.
With many centres already providing riding lessons to disabled people the accreditation also offers the centre and its staff support, giving advice and guidance drawing on the extensive expertise of the RDA on everything from appropriate lesson planning to the use of specialist equipment.
Lead Accessibility Mark Support Officer, Lizzie Hill said: “When we launched the project four years ago we knew there were centres who felt they needed more support but we couldn’t predict how popular they would become.
“The centres we work with are really trying to open their doors to more disabled clients and we are definitely seeing a difference in numbers of people taking up the sport, and also a growth in confidence of those centres we work with.”
The golden milestone is particularly significant as the RDA head in to their 50th anniversary year in 2019, with events planned throughout the year, including the opening of the new National Training Centre.
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 50 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.
To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk