Over recent years, we have been working in partnership with local therapy riding centre, Muirfield Riding Therapy (MRT). Muirfield Riding Therapy, a member group of Riding for the Disabled UK, provides pioneering equine facilitated therapy, involving activities with horses to promote participants’ physical and mental health. Volunteer-led and self-funded, MRT’s sessions are free to ensure they are accessible to all.
The Charity has a tradition of breaking new ground with the establishment of its partnership with NHS Lothian in 2009, The Children’s Therapeutic Riding Service, to deliver therapy sessions for patients in the NHS Lothian paediatric physiotherapy department.
The children who are referred to the service present a huge array of challenges, including issues with mobility, balance, muscle tone, strength, coordination, body awareness and symmetry. Therapeutic riding provides a means to address all of these issues, and more, in sessions that the children truly enjoy.
Physiotherapist Lizzie says,
“At no other time would a child agree to a constant 45 minutes of hard physiotherapy – the ponies and team make all of the difference!”
Post-pandemic, the Charity’s service is in demand more now than ever, so it has continued to develop, enabling them to accommodate more people with various and complex mental and physical disabilities through a range of equine facilitated therapies.
Michelle Sutton, MRT’s Chairperson explains,
“By using our Mechanical Horse Oreo, participants on our NHS partnership session, The Children’s Therapeutic Riding Service, were able to return for therapy earlier in the pandemic and by launching our Quiet Corner, people who are unable to ride, can access our service and enjoy the benefits of bonding with our special ponies.”
The charity currently has 12 specially trained therapy ponies. Each pony is specially chosen and trained to ensure participants can be offered the best therapeutic benefit, and costs around £3000 per pony, per year. MacGregor Healthcare Ltd has partnered with Muirfield Riding Therapy for several years now through its Sponsor a Pony campaign. Originally helping launch the campaign back in 2017, the MacGregor Healthcare staff team came to meet their namesake, therapy pony MacGregor. The company sponsored him for the final years of his life and continues to generously support the charity as a pony sponsor.
Muirfield Riding Therapy’s Fundraising Manager, Deborah McLaughlin says,
“We have over the past year been able to purchase additional ponies, thanks to companies like MacGregor Healthcare Ltd, and our Sponsor a Pony campaign. These ponies are at different stages in their training and have helped us immensely in keeping up with the demand for our services.”