HorseHage & Mollichaff Helpline – 01803 527274

HorseHage Continues Support of Meirionydd Special Riding Group

Katy practices the first steps of vaulting on the barrel

Katy practices the first steps of vaulting on the barrel

HorseHage has announced it is to continue supporting the Meirionydd Special Riding Group – a registered charity and member of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) based in the Meirionydd region of Wales – which has been providing riding and horse care opportunities to people with physical disabilities, special needs, behavioural difficulties and mental health problems since 1973.

Approved instructors give lessons through the medium of Welsh and English and each rider works towards a goal.  Aiding the instructors is a team of volunteers that is the backbone of the group. As well as regular riding lessons, riders have the opportunity to take the RDA’s graded tests, ride out through the beautiful countryside, compete in regional and national competitions and learn to care for ponies.

Kieran Humphries riding Paddy 3rd in Countryside Challenge

Kieran Humphries riding Paddy 3rd in Countryside Challenge

The riding group runs sessions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for 38 children and adults who travel from Gwynedd and Powys. As well as the physical benefits of riding, the riders achieve specific skills and targets set during the weekly lessons, and each year up to 10 of them go on to compete in the North Wales Regional Riding for the Disabled Championships held near Wrexham.

Kirsty riding Marsala won three classes Countryside Challenge, Intro into Dressage, Combined Training.

Kirsty riding Marsala won three classes Countryside Challenge, Intro into Dressage, Combined Training.

For the last four years, riders have qualified to go through to the National Countryside Challenge Finals at Hartpury College, and within the last couple of years, two riders have qualified for the Dressage finals.

However, the group is currently at full capacity, due to the restricted number of suitable horses available to rent at the riding stables where the sessions are held. Therefore they have expanded the group to set up an equestrian vaulting session.

Alison Sheen riding Benson placed 3rd in Total Visual Impairment Dressage Class

Alison Sheen riding Benson placed 3rd in Total Visual Impairment Dressage Class

Vaulting is often described as ‘gymnastics on the back of a moving horse’ and is an intensely motivating team sport that encourages self-confidence and increases physical fitness in each individual.  This sport uses only one horse per session for up to eight young people who share time on the horse, time working on the ‘barrels’  and time practicing technical moves on gym mats.

The group currently uses Sheridan – a 12-year-old cob – for teenagers and adult vaulters and has recently been gifted a pony by a local couple to start training for the future of the younger vaulters.

In addition, to mark its 40th Anniversary, the group is currently applying for a grant to either buy or rent land to move to a new venue and are looking for land in the Dolgellau area (Gwynedd, North Wales). This will allow them to keep their own horses, picked and trained especially for this type of work. The eventual aim is to set up an independent specialist equestrian centre in the area to provide horse riding, vaulting and carriage-driving opportunities for people with special needs, disabilities and mental health problems, as well as working with local schools to target disadvantaged and/or demotivated youngsters.

One of the group’s trustees said: “We recognize that this is a challenging and ambitious plan but feels this is the right direction so that we can continue to promote the values of the Riding for the Disabled Association in supporting local people with additional needs. We will now be actively fundraising and looking for land and facilities where we can be autonomous as a group.”

Said Matthew Cooke of Friendship Estates, regional producer of HorseHage: “The Merionydd Special Riding Group provides a valuable facility in the area and the fact that these RDA horses do so well on HorseHage helps us to shatter the misconception that Horsehage is too high in energy for the everyday horse. High Fibre Horsehage is the ideal forage alternative.”

DSC_0498DSC_0734DSC_0564

For further information on the Meirionnydd Special Riding Group please visit  www.msrg.org.uk