When a School Trip Inspires a New Hobby

rda accessibility mark

When a School Trip Inspires a New Hobby

12-year-old Roo Hirons from the Isle of Wight had often asked to go horse riding but with lockdown restrictions and family commitments, Roo’s mum Helen had not managed to make it happen.

When Roo came home from school one day excited at being given the choice to either go surfing or horse riding, for Roo it wasn’t a difficult decision and he jumped at the chance to go horse riding.

Roo attends The Einstein Centre as he is autistic and has Sensory Processing Disorder, a neurological condition that can affect one or more of the five senses meaning the world can be a constant source of stimuli.

12-year-old Roo Hirons
12-year-old Roo Hirons riding Colin the Cob

Although Roo had expressed an interest in horse riding, Helen was surprised that Roo had agreed to go and was very happy to give her consent to the session at Island Riding Centre on the Isle of Wight.

Said Helen: “I was apprehensive about Roo going horse riding as he can struggle in a new environment but I knew that the fantastic staff from the school would be there to support him and that they wouldn’t take the children to participate in activities anywhere that didn’t understand about the additional needs that the students from The Einstein Centre can have.”

Island Riding Centre is an Accessibility Mark accredited centre meaning the staff has competed training and assessment from the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).

Liverpool International Horse Show 2021 banner

Riding for the Disabled Association, in partnership with the British Equestrian’s participation programme, launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.

Helen soon realised that her worries were unfounded as Roo was extremely excited on the day and on returning home he was the happiest she had seen him in a long time.

“Roo showed me his rosette and certificate and told me it had been brilliant and exhilarating. He was so happy that he had been on a horse, especially as it was called Colin as he has an Uncle Colin. After telling me about the day the question came up ‘can I go again’?” said Helen.

Having enjoyed his riding experience so much, Roo has ridden at Island Riding Centre  two or three times a week during the summer school holidays.

In a short space of time, riding has helped Roo gain in confidence which has a positive effect on him as he is calm around the horses and is willing to learn new things, doing a little bit more in every lesson. Helen has also noticed that Roo sits and stands taller, which is another positive from riding.

Roo’s favourite horse at the centre is Colin the Cob (pictured here), who has blue eyes just like Roo and although he now rides other horses which he happily accepts, Roo always asks about Colin every time he is at the centre.

Helen has nothing but praise for the team at Island Riding Centre: “The staff are absolutely incredible, I cannot praise them enough. Lydia has taken so much time introducing Roo to different horses so he is more confident around them.

“Angel has a fantastic rapport with Roo in his lessons and he adores her. I have had contact with a number of the staff and they are all brilliant and so helpful. It truly is an amazing team and I would recommend Island Riding Centre to anyone, child or adult wanting to try horse riding to contact them and book.”

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.

There are currently 53 Accessibility Mark-approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk

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Accessibility Mark – Everything You Need to Know

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