Despite the limited resources available this small social enterprise is achieving amazing outcomes for children with additional support needs from their temporary base, and has notched up some outstanding achievements in 2019. In addition to weekly classes in horse riding, equine assisted learning and equestrian vaulting, all led by coaches accredited by the British Horse Society and RDA, Equi-Power members have enjoyed success in recent numerous competitive outings.
In March this year, Equi-Power was recognised for achievements when awarded Horsescotland Equestrian Club of the Year and Equestrian Photo of the Year, with awards sponsored by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society.
Horsescotland Chairman, Grant Turnbull says “Equi-Power was recognised for the work that is does in helping young people with additional support needs to develop transferrable life skills, whilst achieving therapeutic, learning, and health benefits through activities with horses. The group has also done much to raise awareness among the general public through national media channels about the benefits that people from all walks of life can gain from activities with horses.”
Other recent achievements include winners at the RDA West and Central Region Competition at Glasgow group of the Riding for the Disabled Centre. Millie Boo Smith (aged 12) and Mhairi Dawson (aged 27) jointly won the Strathclyde Police Cup for tack and, turnout and Mhairi Dawson was also awarded The Punch Bowl Trophy for the Intermediate Countryside Challenge. Both riders also qualified riding Laddie for the RDA National Championships at Hartpury, however due to limited resources Laddie was unable to make the trip due to his commitments providing opportunities for other disadvantaged youngsters in the local area.
RDA vaulting coach, Lynne Blore, has grown her small vaulting group and progressed significant improvements in physical fitness, and ability to follow instructions, enabling children with additional support needs to provide outstanding displays of agility and team working at several British Equestrian Vaulting events with much success this year.
Sporting successes, national media coverage, and receipt of three Horsescotland Awards at the Dunblane Hydro in March (trustee Susie Elliot was also recognised for 50 years of outstanding contribution to RDA) prompted an invitation for the group to perform at the Royal Highland Show in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of RDA.
The Highland Show display team included:- Tara Lee (7 years), Merryn Binnie (9 years), Skye Davidson (9 years), Leah Syme (7 years), Keira Macgrain (11 years), and Millie Boo Smith (12 years).
The children showed that ‘it’s what you can do that counts’ as they amazed the crowds with their talents, despite the challenges they face through living life with a variety of additional support needs including; autistic spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and dwarfism.
Equi-Power activities empower young people with additional support needs to build confidence, make friends, develop fitness and mobility, improve physical and mental health, and work as a team through engaging in activities with horses.
Taster sessions are available during school holidays for private individuals, with new primary schools scheduled to start week-day activities for autistic children from September onwards. Still some availability during term time and holidays – enquiries should be made through the website contact page.
Equi-Power relies on voluntary help and is extremely grateful to all the volunteers who support activities, both hands on with horses and behind the scenes. The group is also delighted to have had the support of funding contributions from; The Robertson Trust, The Stafford Trust, The Co-op Community Fund, Persimmon Homes, Waitrose Community Matters, The Kilt Walk, The Knights Templar, Trefoil Guide and The Wooden Spoon (the children’s charity of rugby) who provided funds to buy their main vaulting horse Laddie, who performed impeccably on his Royal Highland Show debut.
The group is currently fundraising for another new horse and donations can be made through the donate button on the website at www.equi-power.org. The group currently delivers services weekly activities for 25 young people per month, with additional activities during school holidays bringing annual service users to 55 during 2018 with volunteering opportunities for over 50 people. Purchase of a new horse will significantly increase the number of people engaging in activities and as soon as the group has moved to its own premises which, will provide more cost effective horse care arrangements, the group plans to add another to 3-4 horses to the team as soon as possible. Then over the next 1-2 years, as suitable horses are identified for training, the group aspires to grow organically towards higher output targets providing sigificant more people with the opportunity to benefit from activities with horses.
Support in kind is very welcome from any organisations able to support development and construction of facilities. Enquiries about volunteering, supporting the capital project, and accessing services can be made through the contact page on the website www.equi-power.org.