A NORTH Yorkshire equestrian centre is hoping to welcome more disabled riders to take to the saddle, after signing up to a national scheme.

Kirklevington Riding Centre, based in Yarm, has become an Accessibility Mark accredited centre after meeting the criteria set out by the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).

The RDA, in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.

A British Horse Society (BHS) approved centre, Kirklevington has been established for 38 years, providing riding lessons to two generations, from total beginners to riders looking to work towards a qualification.

The centre recognised an increase in demand from disabled riders, particularly those with autism.

Horse riding has many benefits for people on the autistic spectrum, including improved concentration and social interaction, learning to attend to their horse rather than reacting to the sounds and stimuli in a strange environment and adapting to changes of routine.

Jen Brooks, Chief Instructor at the centre said: “We applied for Accessibility Mark status for the benefit of the riders that were already regularly attending for lessons, and we hope that the accreditation will give new clients confidence in our abilities to meet their needs.

“All of our instructors found the training with the Accessibility Support Officer (ASO) extremely useful, reinforcing the strategies we were implementing during lessons and introducing new ideas to make lessons more engaging and ensure good practice.”

The new accreditation comes hot on the heels of the centre also becoming a BHS Training and Exam centre, further developing its expansion of services.

An Autism Awareness Charity Show recently held by the centre raised £350 and plans are underway to hold a similar fundraising Open Afternoon on Tuesday, May 29 between 1pm and 4pm.

During the Open Afternoon the centre will be promoting the RDA Qualifications that many of their riders are already working towards, as well as offering taster riding and grooming sessions.

Booking is not required, and all proceeds will be donated to The National Autistic Society.

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 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.

For further information contact Kirklevington Riding Centre on (01642) 791 027 or visit www.kirklevingtonridingcentre.co.uk

There are currently 48 Accessibility Mark-approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk.