A charity which encourages disabled and disadvantaged people to take up horse riding has received a big leg-up thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Freemasons.
The money will allow the Shropshire-based Cavalier Centre, which uses 14 horses and ponies to provide support to disabled people from across the West Midlands, to expand its operations.
The charity, which is run by five staff members and 200 volunteers, runs an equestrian and riding centre in Much Wenlock.
It offers a range of schemes to improve physical, mental and emotional health through horse-based activity.
The centre, at Bradley Farm in Farley, serves 140 regular riders and carriage drivers from across Shropshire, Staffordshire, the Black Country, Worcestershire and Birmingham through the Riders for the Disabled scheme. It also helps a further 100 people through its ad hoc activities.
These include quiet sessions with ponies, aimed at helping those with depression or anxiety.
It also runs therapeutic pony-care sessions aimed at children with special educational needs or disabilities, or who are in the care of social services.
The centre’s riding and carriage-driving sessions help people with disabilities improve their coordination, balance, communication and social skills.
It also runs the pioneering At Home with Horses scheme which is aimed at children and families dealing with trauma, including refugees.
It also runs a confidence-building programme for people overcoming barriers or looking to get back into the workforce or education.
For older people, the centre also offers regular ‘tea with a pony’ sessions to promote conversation and connection for those living with dementia, their families and carers.
The grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, spread over two years, will part-fund the salary of a staff member, allowing it to expand its operations.
Cavalier Centre manager Rachel Lambert-Jones said the grant would make a big difference.
“It means we can reach further into the community, and make sure people who would benefit from spending time with our horses and people will be able to.
“It’s hard to put into words the changes we see in our participants, but our horses work a special kind of magic.
“It’s such a joy to watch them grow in both confidence and ability.
“We are so incredibly grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for recognising our work in this way.”