Hampshire Riding Therapy Centre is a registered charity dedicated to teaching and working with adults and children with a range of disabilities and special needs.
We believe that horse riding provides valuable therapy and self-confidence for people from all walks of live, whatever their needs are. There is a great sense of satisfaction and achievement from horse riding or even simply being around our wonderful horses here at the yard.
Our experienced team is on-hand to help both riders and carers. We have wheelchair access and safety equipment, our aim is to provide a safe and fun visit.
In addition to our therapy riding, we also offer lessons and other activities which are listed here, every booking made helps to fund therapy riding. Our riders often go on to take part in local, county and regional competitions. We encourage everyone to find their own level…and to enjoy it.
‘When I’m older, I want to be a three-day eventer,’ says 11-year-old Lauren Burrows. And, watching her ride, you can believe it’ll happen.
She owns Charlie, a 10-year-old Welsh Section C and is at Hampshire Riding Therapy Centre before and after school to take care of him and to ride.
On the evening that we met, she’s practicing her position in canter in preparation for more cross-country competitions. This involves cantering on a lunge without stirrups or reins, whilst holding two mugs full of water to keep her hands level. She’s laughing and grinning broadly, even if her jodhpurs are slightly damp by the end!
She’s come a long way in six years. She arrived at the stables as a five-year-old. Her mother, Jeanette, was desperate to find her a hobby, ‘But everything I tried, I just cried,’ says Lauren. ‘When I came here I stopped crying.
‘It was really friendly and the horses were nice. I loved all the games we did in lessons.’
Fairly soon, like many a little girl, Lauren had begged her parents to buy the pony that she was riding, Charlie. They did and competitions followed. So did rosettes.
Sadly, Charlie died in 2012. His place has been taken another pony called Charlie and the pair are going from strength to strength.
In 2014 alone they competed at the Royal Windsor Show, the New Forest Show, the Alresford Show and the Romsey Show. There were medals, rosettes aplenty and even an enormous cup.
Lauren still has regular lessons and has seen her dressage scores jump from the 60s to the late 70s and early 80s over the past year.
‘Owning Charlie has made a real difference,’ says Lauren. ‘But I get such support up here. I could never have achieved these things without Hampshire Riding Therapy Centre. They are so kind.’
‘I like trotting,’ says nine-year-old Milo Stanley. ‘It’s really fast. And I like jumping too.’
Milo started riding when he was six years old. Not unusual, you may think. But for Milo and his family, riding has been physical therapy, structured learning and fun. In short, it’s been just what he needed.
Milo has high-functioning autism and hypermobility. ‘His muscles are floppy,’ says his mother, Vicky. Or at least they were.
Regular Sunday morning lessons on Bobby, an 8-year-old dark bay Welsh Section D pony have changed everything for Milo, including his muscle tone.
‘He’s in a totally different place now,’ says Vicky. ‘When he started, we wanted to strengthen his core muscles, as his balance wasn’t good and so his running was awkward and unnatural compared with his peers.
‘We wanted him to learn and follow instruction, and to have a sport that he could enjoy like other children.’
Four years on his muscles have developed so well that he’s taken part in a local fun run and joined a football club at school.
So it’s no surprise that his confidence has been boosted too, says Vicky. ‘Now he faces new challenges confidently,’ she says. ‘He wants to tackle things and push himself to do more and more.’
Jumping lessons are a case in point. On the quiet, Milo is a bit of a speed freak and loves the energy of jumping in the outdoor school. ‘I love the fast bits,’ he says.
‘There’s a lack of support for children like Milo,’ says Vicky. ‘But this is a real support for us all. This is like a dream come true.’
But Milo’s story doesn’t end there. Now, his little sister Tilly (7) has joined him at Hampshire Riding Therapy Centre for her own weekly lessons on ponies PT and Juniper. It’s a family outing that everyone loves.
Even Dad, Giles, has got the bug. ‘I don’t like animals, I don’t like the countryside, but I love it,’ he says. ‘It’s great. It’s just a happy experience.’