Back in May last year (2012), a friend was thinking of things she could do for her birthday. She wanted to do something different, rather than the usual – e.g. go for a meal, etc. That was when we found out about the Scropton Riding & Driving Centre.
Based in Derbyshire, the Centre offers the opportunity to learn horse riding or horse cart driving for people of all abilities and ages. Looking at their website it said ‘Scropton Riding for the Disabled, provide safe & enjoyable riding and driving activities for a wide range of abilities.’
So we set a date and booked it, as well as completing the necessary forms (downloaded from the website). However I was a little worried beforehand, as I didn’t think I’d be able to take part; I thought it would be too physically demanding. I went along anyway and thought I’d give it a go and if nothing else I could always say I tried!
I am really glad I didn’t chicken out because I had a great time! Scropton Riding & Driving Centre have excellent facilities, experienced staff and a friendly atmosphere. The horses are amazing; really well trained and well looked after.
First of all, you have to find a correctly fitting helmet. Then you have to be a bit brave; the back of the cart has a fold out a ramp which is quite steep! You need to have a strong person with you who can push you up the ramp – (note: you need a manual wheelchair). The staff will help but you need to have someone with you too. Once you are in the cart your chair is clamped down and the instructor sits down next to you. If you are able to, the instructor will first explain how to use the reins and then hand them over to you. I haven’t got much arm strength so couldn’t hold the reins, but the instructor still explains everything as you drive around the paddock, and tells you what instructions to give the horse to chnge speed. So basically you have to call the name of the horse (mine was called Jet!) and tell it to change from slow walk, to a trot, and up to a gallop. (a little warning here, the paddock is quite bumpy! I didn’t try galloping!! )
I would recommend anyone to try it out regardless of ability. Everyone can take part in some way. If you are ambulant you could even try horse riding. The website is http://www.scroptonequestrian.com/