Horse Riding Tops Para Sport Opportunities in the UK

FEI World Equestrian Games™; GB; Grade 2; Individual Championship; Paradressage; Sophie Wells GBR on C Fatal Attraction Photo FEI/Liz Gregg

Horse Riding Tops Para Sport Opportunities in the UK

Horse riding is one of the top para sport opportunities in the UK, a new study finds.

According the leading disability charity, Leonard Cheshire, horse riding is the most accessible para sport opportunity in the UK.

Approximately 16% of the 3146 sport clubs listed on the Parasport website are related to equestrian sport. Meanwhile, less than 1% of clubs sourced through the website offered relevant athletic opportunities.

With 497 clubs nationwide offering riding, driving, and other equestrian-related activities to disabled adults and children, the sport tops the list. Even urban areas have made horse-riding readily available, with locations like London offering an average of 13 clubs within 10 miles of every postcode.

The research showed there is a clear skew towards London-based parasport generally. However, all but one postcode in the UK offered equestrian activities.

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) is a key provider of these services. The RDA works across the UK, allowing 25,000 disabled adults and children to access horse-riding, carriage driving and other equestrian activities. Plus, with two members of the Paralympics equestrian team accessing the sport through the organisation, it reflects the ability of the services to create sporting excellence.

Of the 98 Gold medals won at the Paralympics in London (2012) and Rio (2016), 12% were in Equestrian events.

RDA’s Caroline Ward commented;

Great Britain’s Paralympic success in Para Dressage is in no small part thanks to RDA.  Indeed, several of this year’s team heading out to Tokyo started their careers at their local RDA group. Our reach across the UK offers young people and adults the opportunity to take up horse riding and carriage driving to achieve a personal goal – be that for therapy or fun. And for some that goal means a gold medal or two!

“We are very grateful to Leonard Cheshire for looking into this and highlighting the reach of RDA groups across the UK. We are often located in more rural areas, where the provision of other activities may be quite limited, enabling us to inspire and support more disabled people into equestrian sport.”

Horse-riding is not only the most accessible in terms of facilities, it also suits a wide range of disabilities. The sport can be easily adapted through additional equipment and support. For those who cannot sit on horseback, activities such as driving can immerse them in equestrian sport.

In addition, equestrian sport provides other therapeutic opportunities. Human-animal social interaction has been horse to be hugely beneficial for those with learning and developmental disabilities to cope with other areas of life.

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