This year marks the 25th anniversary of Follifoot Park Disabled Riders Group, offering disabled adults and children the unique benefits of horse riding. It improves their strength, co-ordination and confidence and many have also developed friendships with fellow riders over the years. Importantly, it also provides them with some much needed fun.
The group was originally formed back in 1986 thanks to the efforts of Julie Pedley, from Follifoot Park Riding Centre and Rosie Towers, before becoming an independent charity in 1994.
It has gone from strength to strength and developed its facilities, adding hoists and a variety of special equipment to enable more disabled riders to enjoy the benefits of horse riding.
Starting from as young as 2 years old and with no upper age limit, the charity caters for riders with a variety of needs, from far and wide. It is also able to offer rides in a carriage or on a mechanical horse, depending on the riders’ particular needs. The Charity now has over 100 riders, helped by 150 volunteers.
Patron, Michael Abrahams said:
Rosie Towers was an inspirational woman
She, along with Julie Pedley were determined to give anyone with a disability the same opportunity to ride as anyone able bodied.
They set about recruiting volunteers and a patron, not taking no for an answer! Not quite satisfied, she went on to purchase the carriage for anyone unable to get on a horse.
Rosie’s drive for improvement continued and in 2004 Stan arrived, the mechanical horse which was her pride and joy. Sadly she passed away in 2005 but her legacy and dream live on.
None of this would have been possible without the fantastic support of the founders, a dedicated group of volunteers and the riders’ families, together with the local community and businesses.
The Charity always welcomes new volunteers and Sarah, one of the volunteers says “It is the most rewarding part of my week and I love watching the enjoyment the riders get and the progress that they make.”
To mark the anniversary there will be a day of celebration at Follifoot Park Riding Centre, Pannal Road, on Sunday 15th September between 11am and 2:30 pm.
At the open day on Sunday at Follifoot Riding School there was a range of activities and food. The Mayor of Harrogate was the guest of honour and cut the celebration birthday cake.
If you would like to volunteer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01423 546161