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Inspiring the next generation of Para-equestrian riders

Following a successful pilot phase, a new training initiative designed to help young disabled riders onto the pathway to Paralympic success is being rolled out by the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) in partnership with Riding for the Disabled (RDA).

The BEF Para-equestrian Entry Programme which is funded by Sport England; is a clear example of the 2012 Paralympic legacy and the long-term impact the Games will have on Para-equestrian sport.

The initiative offers free coaching to talented young riders aged between 12yrs – 18yrs with disabilities, from top international coaches, at selected Riding for the Disabled venues throughout the year.  Trainers already lined up to take part include Angela Weiss, who trains Paralympics silver medallist and grade IV world champion Sophie Wells and Sacha Hamilton coach to grade II Paralympic gold medallist Natasha Baker.

Participants will have their riding assessed, receive training tips and be given clear goals to enable them to focus on areas for improvement, before the next training session.

Participating RDA centres include:
• The Unicorn Centre, Middlesborough
• Middleton Park Equestrian Centre, Leeds, North Yorkshire
• New Barn Farm, Knutsford, Cheshire
• Kesteven Rideability, Grantham, Lincolnshire
• Conquest Centre for Disabled Riders, Taunton, Somerset
• Avon Riding Centre, Bristol
• Lowlands Farm RDA, Shrewley, Warwickshire
• South Bucks RDA, Fulmer, Buckinghamshire
• Arrow Riding & Driving Centre, Dartford, Kent
• Chigwell Riding Trust, Chigwell, Essex
• Little Brook Equestrian Centre, Newchapel, Surrey
• The Diamond Centre, Carshalton, Surrey
• Penniwells RDA, Elstree Hertfordshire

David Hamer, who leads this training initiative for the British Equestrian Federation commented: “Many of our Paralympic medallists started riding at their local Riding for the Disabled centres.  This initiative has been designed to inspire and encourage talented young para-equestrians and give them clear goals.  Using established Riding for the Disabled venues means that the sessions will be more easily accessible to those taking part and we hope to reach even more young riders.

“The initiative will help the next generation of Paralympians take their next steps into competition riding and embark their journey towards on the England Talent Pathway.”
Natasha Baker, Team GB Paralympic Gold Medallist Natasha Baker added: “It’s great to see this new initiative to help develop riders within the RDA and give them the confidence to progress into the Para-equestrian structure.

“I was lucky enough to have been given support by the RDA Centre that I started riding at and it’s wonderful to see so many enthusiastic young riders given this great opportunity.”

Currently Riding for the Disabled helps more than 30,000 people with disabilities to ride each year and is made up of 500 volunteer groups.  In addition to providing a route into competitive riding, Riding for the Disabled is committed to demonstrating the social, therapeutic and physical benefits that riding can offer.

Training dates are now being finalised for the winter training programme.  In order to take part young para-equestrians should contact Beccy Phillips at the British Equestrian Federation tel: 02476 698904 or click here.

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