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Equestrian sports are the most accessible to people affected by a disability
Parasport’s a community that believes there’s a sport or activity for everyone. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender or impairment is – there’ll be something out there for you to enjoy. A leading disability charity, Leonard Cheshire, has been looking into the sporting opportunities available to those who are impaired and pony-related activities have come out on top!
Amazingly, they found that almost 500 (16%) of the 3149 clubs listed on the Parasport website offer equestrian-based activities for disabled children and adults. Whereas less than 1% of clubs offered athletic opportunities. Therefore, the whole equestrian community should be proud of what our sport has to offer. Even in urban areas, such as London, horse riding is a widely available sport. This is largely down to the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), who are a key provider of access to the equestrian world. They work across the UK and offer 25,000 disabled adults and children access to horse riding, whether that be riding itself, carriage driving or other equine activities.
It comes as no surprise that two of the Paralympians currently in Tokyo waiting to compete, started their careers in para-dressage thanks to their local RDA. Whether your goal’s to get gold medals or just have fun in the saddle, the RDA has proven how easily horse riding can be adapted to those with disabilities. Additional pieces of equipment, such as looped reins, are used and volunteers are on-hand to help, so even if your mobility’s limited, you can still enjoy being around horses. Those with learning and development disabilities can benefit, too. Connecting with a living creature makes you feel positive and calm and understanding the rules of behaviour around horses can also help with day-to-day social interaction.
The huge impact that accessible sports have on disabled adults and children shouldn’t be overlooked and Leonard Cheshire is striving to get more people involved and inspired.
To find out more about the opportunities in your area, head to parasport.org or rda.org.uk