Riding Lessons Tees Valley - Riding For The Disabled Tees Valley

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charity

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charity

  

DISABLED RIDING CENTRE WELCOMES  A ROYAL VISITOR

Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, President, Riding for the Disabled Association visited the RDA Unicorn Centre at Hemlington, Middlesbrough yesterday: Wednesday 26 February 2020.

This is the third visit that Her Royal Highness has made to the Unicorn Centre since it opened in 1998. Further photos can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/RDA-Unicorn-Centre-490247707725261/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2761547760595233

This time, Her Royal Highness attended to officially open the Paul Conway Room, which houses the Centre’s newest horse, a Horse Riding Simulator called Blackberry. 

This is the result of four years of fund raising to raise the £65,000 to buy the simulator and construct the room, situated in the stable yard alongside the indoor arena with access to the mounting hoist.

Her Royal Highness watched ridden and lead displays by participants and Supported Volunteers in the indoor arena and handed out rosettes. She also presented participant Rebecca Aston with the Centre’s Inspirational Rider Award.

After watching a display on Blackberry by Olivia Fairclough and meeting some of Centre’s diploma learners and horses Duke and Alby, Her Royal Highness met donors of funds for the project, long-term riders and volunteers and Friends of the Unicorn Centre, before departing with a bouquet presented by Helen Bristow, escorted by 3 year old Joshua Pitt.

Centre Manager Claire Pitt said, “We are delighted that Her Royal Highness was able to visit the Centre again, see Blackberry in action and meet the people who are so important to the Centre. We’re sure that Blackberry will become a valuable part of our service, and the best part is, we don’t have to feed him or groom him!

She continued, “We have already set up a special introductory offer to allow riders to try out Blackberry and experience the benefits. Details can be found on our website.”

Information about the Project:

Blackberry will be a fantastic new tool for the Centre’s existing and new participants, as it will enable them to develop and enhance their riding skills in a warm, controlled environment as an alternative to using a real live horse.  It will be used to assess potential new participants and those with particular physical or weight problems will be able to continue their riding lessons on it.  And it means that the Centre’s ponies can still provide riding lessons in the arena at the same time, so riding to more people can be offered every day.

The Simulator lives in The Paul Conway Room close to the mounting area, so that the existing mounting hoist can be used for wheelchair users. Participants and even experienced riders will be able to assess their balance and position using computer programmes, sensors on the horse and a TV screen to experience real-time riding in a variety of environments. 

The Paul Conway Room was named in memory of Paul Conway who rode for many years at the Centre. He bravely coped with severe illness for 15 years and his courage after his debilitating stroke was an inspiration to all who knew him. He sadly passed away unexpectedly in 2018, and his friends have been raising funds for the Centre ever since.

Paul was our great friend. He actively supported the Centre giving a participant’s perspective at talks and events, all in his own endearing and inimitable manner - a true ambassador for RDA participants. 

Paul left a huge hole in the hearts of so many people, but we can truly say that his incredible passion for riding therapy will continue to inspire so many lives.

Fundersincluded grants from: People’s Postcode Lottery, Bruce Wake Foundation, Rothley Trust, Hedley Foundation, Middlesbrough & Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, Sport England and Tees Valley Business Compass. Donations also came from Ferrum Masonic Lodge, WamDram, Nunthorpe Singers, Zetland Ladies and Teesside Physiotherapy Society, and Paul Conway’s sponsor and friend Dr Paula Heath who raised over £3000 for the project.

OLIVIA FAIRCLOUGH

Olivia Fairclough’s determination is inspirational.

Olivia joined the Unicorn Centre’s NVQ Horse Care programme as a teenager after time spent volunteering. She swiftly achieved her qualifications and found her dream job in Egypt as a riding instructor working with Arab horses.  That dream was abruptly smashed in 2016 when her horse fell on her in a freak fall. She was crushed: broken ribs, two punctured lungs and worst of all a T12 vertebra break.

A crowdfunding appeal covered her medical costs and return to England, but no treatment could change the fact that Olivia was now paraplegic facing life in a wheelchair.  As soon as she was able, Olivia rang the Centre from hospital asking about the possibility of riding. 

Since then Olivia has been working hard to recover and gain strength, driven by her ambition to ride again and early in 2019, that dream was realised.

In March 2019, after assessments and discussions about her expectations, 34 year old Olivia was hoisted onto pony Alfie for the first time since her horrific fall three years ago.  Naturally there were initial tears, wobbles and worries.  But throughout there were smiles, by Olivia, and also by Hippotherapist Victoria, Coach Judy and the volunteers as they witnessed her realising the start of her dream.

At the start ten minutes with two side walkers was all Olivia could manage, but week by week, she made rapid improvement. Within four sessions Olivia had worked out how to manage her upper body balance, starting to lift her hands from Alfie’s withers.  She quickly learnt how to use her weight and upper body strength, working hard on core stability.

Within two months she was holding the reins. By month three she’d transferred from the sheepskin to a Torsion saddle and took her first trot on the lead rein. One week later she finished her session trotting along the long side of the arena off the lead with Alfie under her control – she was ecstatic.  Olivia  has now competed in her first dressage test at a small competition held at the Centre and was placed – the first of what will be many competitions for her.

The Centre is excited for what Olivia will achieve in the future – National Championships certainly and beyond to Paralympics we think.  Olivia is certainly planning on it!

 

 

 

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Riding Lessons & Services

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charityRDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charity

The Unicorn Centre provides riding lessons and therapy for children and adults from 5 years old, both disabled and able-bodied. The Centre has 20 horses and ponies, carefully chosen for their temperament, size and ability to work with disabled riders, and a hoist facility for mounting onto ponies is available for wheelchair users... read more