Disabled children's equestrian charity in plea for new home
Equi-Power Central Scotland is fundraising for a permanent new base.
By Courtney Cameron
A charity which provides equestrian classes for children with disabilities is fundraising for a permanent new home.
Equi-Power Central Scotland was set up after the Riding for the Disabled Centre in Bannockburn was bought over by a developer in 2014 - leaving hundreds of riders with additional needs without facilities.
The charity, which is temporarily based in Plean, teaches children to perform gymnastics on a moving horse - known as vaulting - among a range of classes.
"It's not just about having fun on a horse," Julie-Anne Griffith, the project manager said.
"While having fun is important, they are gaining physiotherapy benefits, the feedback we get from physiotherapists is superb.
"The one to one horse riding is amazing for people with disabilities and mental health problems.
"However, the vaulting is specifically good for extra education and employability skills."
Merryn Binnie, 9, and Skye Davidson, 9, who both have dwarfism, have won several awards for their vaulting performances.
Hailey Davidson, Skye's mum, said: "It's amazing, for the size of them compared to the size of horses that they are working, running with and standing on top of.
'My daughter was diagnosed with autism a number of years ago. Before she started Equi-Power she wouldn't even speak to other children and now she's standing on a horse with another child.'Lynne MacGrain
"The confidence it's given them is outstanding."
Dozens of parents who have children that attend classes at Equi-Power have said the charity is vital to their child's development.
Lynne MacGrain said: "My daughter was diagnosed with autism a number of years ago.
"Before she started Equi-Power she wouldn't even speak to other children and now she's standing on a horse with another child.
"It's a massive improvement."
The charity have been working with Stirling Council to try and establish a permanent home for the centre at Kildean in Stirling. They are now fundraising to raise money for planning permission.
Julie-Anne, the project manager, has said it would be helpful to have a permanent base where they could adapt the riding arenas and stables to cater for people with disabilities.
She said: "We really need a centre where we can more cost effectively grow the base and justify people coming for a whole day, do work experience, employability and really replace the services that were on offer at Bannockburn."
Seven volunteers from the charity are taking part in the Edinburgh Kiltwalk in their first fundraising event this weekend.