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Accessibility Mark and RDA Work Together to Help Kitty Achieve Her Goals

12-year-old Kitty Scarboro has loved horses all her life, first sitting on a horse at six months old during an equine therapy session. 

Kitty, from Battle, East Sussex, was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which means that it affects all the muscles in her body. A wheelchair user, she also struggles with talking, using her hands and arms and her legs are difficult to control.

Four years ago Kitty asked her Dad, Simon, if she could learn to ride – not therapy riding, like she does in her equine therapy sessions but what she called ‘normal’ riding. She loved the idea of participating in a sport that didn’t involve her wheelchair.

Having tried a number of different stables that didn’t quite fulfil Kitty’s needs she started riding at Grove Farm Riding School in Iden on the Kent/Sussex border.kitty riding her favourite pony jimmy

Grove Farm is an Accessibility Mark accredited centre so has undergone training with Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).
Said Kitty: “Grove Farm was the only stables that talked to me and actually asked me what I wanted to do, so it was definitely the place for me.”

Kitty rides at Grove Farm once a week and has developed a great relationship with her instructor, Jess, and her helper, Georgia. Together the three of them have lots of fun. Georgia walks alongside Kitty to support her to keep the correct position.

“When I am riding I feel like I am in control of everything - where I go and what the horse does. I love looking after animals and my favourite pony is called Jimmy. He is black and white with a little moustache and in the summer he gets itchy and they have to put sun cream on his nose! I love cuddling him, which he is very happy to let me do.” added Kitty.

Once a week, Kitty also rides at Fairlight RDA in Hastings, which is closer to home, meaning that Kitty can ride during mid-week. Here she gets to participate in group lessons, which she loves. 

Kitty provides a great example of how RDA and Accessibility Mark work together to ensure the participant is gaining maximum benefit from their sessions as well as setting and working towards common goals.

The RDA regional physiotherapist and regional coach, travelled to Fairlight RDA, along with Grove Farm coaches, Jess and Georgia,, to meet the Fairlight RDA coach. They worked together to assess Kitty riding and to ensure everyone is consistent in their coaching.

To achieve her goal of riding off the lead rein, it is vital that the lesson planning at both Fairlight and Grove Farm are all geared towards the same aims with safety being paramount.

Following this assessment, a report was produced detailing the best way for Kitty to mount and dismount. . A number of set objectives were also included to help her achieve a stable riding position, “The team at RDA talk to me and each other in order to work out what is best for me.I love riding at both centres, meeting new people and having fun outdoors.” said Kitty. 

Like her hero, Sophie Christiansen, Kitty hopes to one day compete in dressage at the Paralympics and having already competed at two competitions with more planned this year, we are sure she will do all she can to fulfil her ambition.

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the 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 to riders of varying levels of disability.

There are currently 51 Accessibility Mark-approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk