We are a small, independent, local charity set up sixty years ago by a far-sighted woman called Lady Miriam Godber. We work out of our own premises in the village of Willington in Bedfordshire and have our own ponies and indoor and outdoor riding schools. We are completely volunteer led.
We use our ponies as therapy for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. Sport is very difficult to access if you are disabled. We primarily work with children from Special Schools in the area but we have a few adult riders too.
The use of ponies is not just a fun activity; the rider receives physiotherapy in a subtle way. The movement and gait of the pony stimulates the rider`s muscles and joints are able to relax. In time balance improves as well as posture and walking ability. As a result, riders are better able to cope with the tasks of daily living – whether it be sitting more upright in their wheelchair, or sitting at a desk doing homework, joining in a family meal or walking home from school
Read on to learn how riding has helped three participants.
Ten Year Old Molly
Molly started riding with us in 2022. She is now 10 years old and has Autism and Global Development Delay. She can also be quite anxious and when she first came to us she would like the same volunteer to help her and to ride the same pony every week. In the time that we have known her, her confidence levels have increased tremendously and she will now happily ride any pony that we ask her to. One week she asked if she could ride our gentle giant Dave and she did very well. She will happily talk to our helpers on a Thursday evening without any prompting. Her parents and teachers have noticed that her confidence has greatly improved and this is reflected both at school and during other activities such as swimming. Her mother commented 'Riding has made a major impact in her everyday life, both socially and emotionally'.
A person with cerebral palsy
Zoe was referred to us by her special school, Ridgeway, when she was a child she is now 24, she has cerebral palsy. When she left school she continued to come each week because riding helps with her balance. She cannot walk, she is confined to a wheelchair but riding helps with her posture and while the BDHRA is able to take her, she will continue to come. Going riding each week has a positive effect on her outlook, gives her something to look forward to and makes quite a difference to her life not only for the physical benefits but also because she is able to mix with people in a different environment.
Liz from Stagenhoe
Liz lives in a Sue Ryder Home in Stagenhoe, Bedfordshire she has Huntingdons Chorea which causes abnormal involuntary movements. Liz has been coming riding for quite a few years.
Liz is able to walk but cannot live independently. Liz enjoys going riding once a week because it gets her out of the Sue Ryder Home , enables her to meet people and feel some independence. Physically it is helping her to cope with the symptoms that come with Huntingdons chorea.