Kirsty Taylor from Lincolnshire was born with Cerebral Palsy and started riding with the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) at just two-years-old on the advice of her physiotherapist to help with her balance, walking and confidence.
Every Monday evening Kirsty’s mum would take her along for a lesson at Southmore RDA, riding a pony called Christmas.
Kirsty has been riding at the centre for the past four years and has built up a great relationship with instructor Kirsty Sweeney who specialises in providing sessions for riders with additional needs.
The benefits of horse riding for Kirsty has been life-enhancing with her mum crediting riding as the reason she can walk, with the aid of a support person or her walker.
Kirsty’s favourite horse is a 16hh gentle giant called Murdoch who has an equally big personality.
Said Kirsty: “Murphy is really well-behaved for all the riders during lessons but is known for being a bit cheeky for the yard staff. He also has a funny habit of sticking his tongue out during lessons and dribbling all over his leader!”
Following her weekly riding lesson Kirsty can feel the benefit both physically and mentally.
“Riding helps to stretch my legs which in turn helps with my walking and my body just feels generally looser. After riding I find that my mental state has improved and I am in a much better head space.”
Accessibility Mark riders are encouraged to participate in RDA Proficiency Tests and with the help of the team at Four Winds Kirsty has gained her Grades 1 – 3 and is working towards her Grade 4 now that she is back riding regularly following a break due to COVID.
The rapport between the instructors, leaders, side-walkers and participants really makes a difference to the experience of those taking part and Accessibility Mark centres like Four Winds go above and beyond to ensure that riders gain maximum benefit from their sessions.
“I get on really well with my instructor Kirsty; she always makes the lessons fun and interesting. If I have any worries about anything I can talk to her and she always listens to me. Kirsty also understands my physical problems with my Cerebral Palsy, due to her work with the SENSE charity,” added Kirsty.
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 Riding for the Disabled Association (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 to riders of varying levels of disability.
To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk