June: Gift Day
‘It just wasn’t working’, explained Gill Morrison. With three others, she had been trying to help some disabled children ride ponies in a commercial riding school. One of them, a physiotherapist, knew all about the way that horse riding could develop muscles and aid movement. It turned out that it just wasn’t possible to reap those positive benefits in that setting.
Together with her late husband Garth, Gill came up with the idea of creating a facility on their farm at West Fenton. ‘It was very small to start with,’ she said, ‘just two or three ponies in the corner of the field.’ Initially it was eight disabled people who came to ride.
Slowly Riding for the Disabled, as it was then called, developed. Out of the blue in 2000, Gill got a phone call from John Anderson the butcher. ‘We’re looking for a millennium project’ he said. ‘What do you need?’
‘A roof over our head’ was Gill’s instant reply. ‘Fine, I’ll give you £10,000 to get you started’ was John’s generous offer.
That prompted some serious fund raising. In 2003, the indoor arena was opened, allowing it to become a genuinely all weather, four season activity.
Muirfield Riding Therapy now has 13 ponies and 200 riders on their books. About 100 people ride each week. With only one employee they depend heavily on more than 100 volunteers. They cater for all kinds of disabilities and all ages. While it is great fun and the riders return because they enjoy it, that is only the beginning. Horse riding has been proven to have physical, social and emotional benefits
Muirfield Riding Therapy is a great illustration of the theme we have for our Gift Day this year – fullness of life. By giving disabled people the chance to ride a pony a door is opened to a fuller life for them. Through the simple activity of riding, physical strength and improved posture develops, social isolation is reduced and greater peace of mind is found.
Through our Gift Day on June 12th 2016 we want to help Muirfield Riding Therapy do more. They are raising money to buy a mechanical horse. This will help some disabled people who at the moment aren't able to sit on a real horse. It will help them develop the muscles or the confidence they lack so they can get to the point of sitting on an actual horse. This is one way we can help people experience a fuller life than they do at the moment.
To see other messages from Neil, click on the appropriate month in the table below.
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