Friday 14th of June 2024

Incorporating an open-minded approach to riding

A Hampshire equestrian centre has become the latest riding establishment to sign up to a national scheme to encourage more disabled people to take up riding.

Wills and Lola waiting for new clients at Russells Equestrian Centre.

Russells Equestrian Centre based in Eastleigh is honoured to have met the criteria set out by Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), to gain their Accessibility Mark accreditation.

Riding for the Disabled Association, in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation’s participation programme, launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.

The British Horse Society, Association of British Riding Schools and The Pony Club approved centre specialises in group and individual tuition for riders of all abilities, using ethical and holistic training methods, to enable clients to be the best rider that they can be.

With an open-minded approach incorporating traditional and innovative riding methodologies, such as Clicker Training, Intelligent Horsemanship, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Ride with Your Mind, and Equine Assisted Learning, Russells Equestrian Centre was already welcoming clients with both physical and learning disabilities.

The centre is also home to The Epona Trust, a non-profit making organisation which specialises in the rescue and rehabilitation of horses and ponies. Part of the rehabilitation process for Epona horses and ponies includes working with special needs groups of adults or children. These sessions can involve riding or ‘contact’ work, as part of Equine Assisted Learning.

Proprietor Carol Boulton, who founded the centre in 1974, found out about the Accessibility Mark scheme through her own long-standing association with RDA. She hopes the new accreditation will be seen as a stamp of approval and an acknowledgment that their standards and training are exacting of those expected by such a well-respected organisation. 

Carol said:

“I hope to encourage more groups to come along and enjoy the benefits that riding can offer, with our new facilities including a club room. My vision is to dip into the idea of riding as a recreational activity. More cream teas and pony rides as opposed to the belief that it is all about serious training.

“In the long term I would like our centre to be seen as a real community asset, where clients can enjoy horses on an informal basis, whilst also providing a challenge for those with more severe disabilities.”

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by 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.

There are currently 38 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

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