Horseback riding tops UK parasport opportunities

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Horseback riding tops UK parasport opportunities

Horseback riding is one of the best parasport opportunities in the UK, according to a new study.

According to Leonard Cheshire, the leading disability charity, horseback riding is the most accessible parasport opportunity in the UK.

About 16% of the 3,146 sports clubs listed on the Parasport website are related to equestrian sport. Meanwhile, less than 1% of clubs selected through the website offered relevant sporting opportunities.

With 497 clubs nationwide offering horseback riding, driving and other equestrian activities for adults and children with disabilities, the sport tops the list. Even urban areas have made horseback riding easily accessible, with places like London offering an average of 13 clubs within a 10 mile radius of each postcode.

Research has shown that there is a clear trend towards London based parasport in general. However, all but one UK postcode offered horse riding activities.

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Horse riding for the Association of the Handicapped (RDA) is a key provider of these services. The GDR works across the UK, providing 25,000 disabled adults and children with access to horseback riding, driving and other equestrian activities. Additionally, with two members of the Paralympic Games equestrian team accessing the sport through the organization, this reflects the ability of services to create sporting excellence.

Of the 98 gold medals won at the Paralympic Games in London (2012) and Rio (2016), 12% were won in equestrian events.

Caroline Ward from RDA commented;

Great Britain’s Paralympic success in para-dressage is in large part thanks to RDA. Indeed, several members of this year’s team heading to Tokyo started their careers in their local RDA group. Our presence across the UK gives young people and adults the opportunity to practice horse riding and driving to achieve a personal goal – whether for therapy or for fun. And for some, that goal means one or two gold medals!

“We are very grateful to Leonard Cheshire for examining this issue and for highlighting the reach of RDA groups across the UK. We are often located in more rural areas, where the offer of other activities can be quite limited, which allows us to inspire and support more people with disabilities in equestrian sport.

Horseback riding is not only the most accessible in terms of equipment, it is also suitable for a wide range of disabilities. The sport can be easily adapted with additional equipment and support. For those who cannot sit on horseback, activities like driving can immerse them in equestrian sport.

In addition, equestrian sport offers other therapeutic opportunities. Human-animal social interaction has been extremely beneficial for people with learning and developmental disabilities to cope with other areas of life.

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