Riding for the Disabled in London: 10 Tips to Help You Find The Right Therapeutic Riding School
You’ve decided you want to start therapeutic horse riding in London, to improve your riding, or to renew a longstanding passion for riding, so now it’s time to research your options. These tips should help you to find options for riding for the disabled in London.
Tips for Finding the Right Therapeutic Horse Riding School for the Disabled in London
1. Define Your Horse Riding Goals
Before you start, make sure you know what you want from your riding. Do you want to be a more confident ‘happy hacker’, learn dressage, or take part in competitions? Are you already a confident rider who wants forward going horses and trail riding? Do you have specific needs due to disability? Find the right place to ride and all of us can enjoy that special bond that comes from sharing time with horses.
2. Research Horse Riding Schools in London Online
Start your research online so you can build up a picture of what a school and its staff and riders are like. There will be lots of clues. If a school’s emphasis is technique, it’ll be obvious from how they describe themselves. If the school exists to give riders of all abilities a happy, safe riding experience, be sure they’ll say so! And be sure that, there are really so many options for horse riding in London.
3. Check Reviews
Read the customer reviews. The longer ones will usually be far more useful at explaining exactly why that customer had a positive experience.
4. Find the Right Atmosphere
The single most important thing to look for is a happy atmosphere, because that’s usually a guarantee of most other things on this list too. When you visit a riding school, do you get a genuinely friendly welcome? Do they appear interested and responsive to what you have to say?
5. Are Horses Happy There?
Do the horses appear happy, relaxed and healthy too? Happy horses will generally look alert and their coats should be in good condition. If they’re in a muddy paddock they may not look well-groomed, but it’ll still be obvious if they’re well cared for.
6. Check the Horse Riding Facilities
Do the facilities look well-organised? Gleaming expensive tack and state of the art stalls will be impressive (and be reflected in the prices), but old tack that’s well-maintained is just as comfortable for horses and riders. Are the stalls clean, with food and water?
7. Can You Have a Good Connection With Your Instructor?
Is your instructor listening to you? If you have ridden before you should be asked how much experience you have and what sort of horses you like to ride. It should be clear that your instructor is really listening to your answers and thinking about the best choice of horse for you. It’s a sign of a truly great riding school when they have an uncanny knack for matching riders with horses.
8. Make a Test Ride With a Single Lesson
You should be able to book a single ride or a lesson so you can check this riding school is going to be the right fit for you. This will probably start with some sort of assessment of your riding ability. Is your instructor encouraging, do they give you positive feedback as well as saying what you could improve? If you feel demoralised after this first experience, walk away!
9. Find a Place to Make You Feel Safe
When you have your first ride, do you feel safe? Does your horse seem calm and kind? Is the instructor or guide watching out for you, encouraging, giving tips, and asking what you’re comfortable about doing on the ride? If you answer no to any of these questions you probably haven’t found the right place to ride yet.
10. Assess Your Disability Criteria
If you have a disability, you’ll have specific criteria to bring to your search, but there are stables that specialise and go out of their way to give you a fantastic and safe experience. There are 500 approved Riding for the Disabled Association riding centres in the UK.) When you find a centre that has a happy community of riders and horses at its heart, and that gives you a warm welcome, that’s probably the one for you.
Supporting Park Lane Stables to Have Their Stables Back
Rachel Maund is a ‘happy hacker’ who writes from personal experience of finding that riding centres vary widely. Park Lane Stables in Teddington near London is one of her happy places.
Natalie O’Rourke is the owner of Park Lane Stables in the London suburb of Teddington. It’s a small, family-run stables on a quiet residential street, and a Riding for the Disabled (RDA) approved school providing both riding and carriage driving for children and adults with disabilities. It also welcomes able-bodied riders to enjoy riding in the leafy surroundings of Royal Bushy Park which is a few minutes ride from the stables.
Park Lane Stables is currently threatened by re-development and has set up an urgent Crowdfunder campaign to buy the stables and secure its future for the community. It needs to raise £1m by 25 February and has raised £225k in January. Can you help?
Read the story of Park Lane Stables, hear what it means to its RDA members, and donate and/or share this story on social media if you can. Check out the details here.