A new training initiative has been launched in areas including Warwickshire to help young disabled riders on the pathway to Paralympic success.
The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) has joined forces with Riding For The Disabled (RDA) to set up the Para-equestrian Entry Programme.
The scheme, funded by Sport England, offers free coaching to talented young riders aged 12 to 18 years old who have disabilities.
Coaching sessions will take place at selected RDA venues throughout the year including the Unicorn Centre, in Middlesbrough; Middleton Park Equestrian Centre, in Leeds; New Barn Farm in Knutsford, in Cheshire; Kesteven Rideability in Grantham, in Lincolnshire; Conquest Centre For Disabled Riders in Taunton, in Somerset, and Avon Riding Centre in Bristol.
Trainers who have signed up to take part include Angela Weiss, who coaches Paralympic silver medallist Sophie Wells, and Sacha Hamilton, who coaches Paralympic gold medallist Natasha Baker.
Baker said: “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.”
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.
Other centres taking part include Lowlands Farm RDA in Shrewley, Warwickshire; South Bucks RDA in Fulmer, in Buckinghamshire; Arrow Riding & Driving Centre in Dartford, in Kent; Chigwell Riding Trust in Chigwell, in Essex; Penniwells RDA in Elstree, Hertfordshire, plus Little Brook Equestrian Centre in Newchapel, and the Diamond Centre in Carshalton, both in Surrey.
David Hamer, who leads the training initiative for the BEF, said: “Many of our Paralympic medallists started riding at their local Riding For The Disabled centres. The initiative will help the next generation of Paralympians take their next steps into competition riding and embark on their journey towards the England Talent Pathway.”
Training dates are now being finalised for the winter programme. For more information, call Beccy Phillips at the BEF on 02476 698904 or visit www.bef.co.uk/RDA-training-hubs .