We run 16 rides each week in term time and we ride every day except Saturday. The rides do not run in the school holidays. Each ride is designated for certain age groups so that a sixty year old is not riding with a four year old. A Coordinator and Ride Leader are assigned to all rides. The Coordinator will run the ride and liaise with the riders and the Ride Leader will be responsible for the horses and safety of the riders. The riders generally ride on alternate weeks so that we can accommodate and help more riders. The timetable will show the times of the rides and the age group on each ride.
We take children from 2 years and some little ones are a little hesitant at first but it is surprising how quickly they adapt and then they are reluctant to get off their pony. They learn to sit, balance, change position and communicate while our special ponies walk and even trot.
The slightly older children and teenagers learn how to ride a horse by walking and trotting and taking part in games such as statues and weaving in and out of the poles, collecting items from each pole. In some cases they progress to one of the Sunday rides where they control the horse themselves and do not have a volunteer leading them. This only happens in the indoor school because the ride leader needs to be able to control the horse in a confined environment.
The adult riders often go out on a hack and enjoy the fresh air and the countryside around Harrogate. When this happens the horses only walk, so the volunteers do not have to run. However, singing is a skill to be encouraged and the residents of Follifoot often hear the riders and volunteers singing as they go along the lanes.
We hire our horses and ponies from Follifoot Park Riding Centre and they are much-loved by both riders and volunteers. There is often a strong bond between the disabled rider and his or her pony.