Health and wellbeing

Funding level: Up to £1,000


New Lodge Riding Centre provides horse riding for people with additional needs. The Centre is a unique place set in SE London but feels as if it is in the country and provides a tranquil and calming setting. We give rides to children and adults with a range of special needs and disabilities in order to provide therapy. The horses are quite remarkable as they often have to tolerate very challenging behaviour but they seem to understand the needs of the riders. As well as offering therapy riding is fun and a great form of exercise particularly for children who don't participate in group sports and spend most of their time infront of "screens".
Physical disabilities are helped by the movement of the horse which stimulates muscles and leads to increased muscle tone. Fine and gross motor skills also benefit. We also work with children on the Autistic spectrum. These children seem to be able to relate to the horses more easily than people and find the riding very calming. Teachers tell us that they benefit from the routine and gain improved listening skills and increased attention span as they focus on an activity they enjoy. These changes are also seen in class and at home after the riding sessions. Children with learning difficulties also benefit from the sessions with the staff trained to use simple instructions so the children are able to understand. We notice the confidence and self esteem of the children growing as they learn to control such a large animal. Steering the horse through a line of cones without anyone holding them is seen as a great achievment. For some children the biggest hurdle may be getting up the courage just to get on the horse while other young people compete at regional and national competitions.
We rely on a band of volunteers to help lead the horses on the rides. These volunteers range from school children, some of our more able riders, adults with some time to spare and pensioners. In this way the whole community is brought together. Many of the school children use the volunteering as part of their D of E awards and some attend for work experience through their schools and colleges. Parents enjoy watching their children take part and doing so well. They also talk with other parents exchanging ideas and information with each other. Our volunteers come from a diverse range of backgrounds but everyone mixes and comes together especially on our fundraising days and clear up days.
Our riders come from local schools, colleges, adult day services and individually with parents or carers. We also work with Royal Greenwich Children's services providing riding for local residents. Lessons are of varying standards so more able students are able to progress while the less able one's have a lesson geared to their needs. The weekend rides are for the more able students and siblings are can join in giving them a chance to take part in an activity as a family. All riders are encouraged to work towards goals and progress and these are set at achievable levels. We operate six days a week all year round giving over 2,500 rides a year. During the holidays we offer special events such as pony mornings when we teach how to care for the horses as well as riding and also field rides.
New Lodge Centre has 12 horses to cater for all the standards of riding. Some of them are retired but they are used for grooming sessions and stay at the Centre as they are all part of the family. The cost of keeping horses in London is very expensive apart from the feed, farrier and vets bills there is also the cost of tack, which has to be individually fitted and rugs for the winter. This year hay is expected to be in short supply and therfore more expensive due to the very hot weather earlier in the year. We have also experienced higher than usual veterinary costs this year due to two horses needing surgery. Both are now recovering well. We would use a grant from AVIVA to help cover future costs to enable us to continue our valuable work.

New Lodge Riding for the Disabled

Moment of Pride

I feel proud when:
I see the children achieve their goals and overcome their difficulties.
I see the dedication of the volunteers giving up their spare time all year round.
I watch the remarkable horses and ponies who take such good care of their riders.

Location: London SE9 4RW, UK