Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 by Sasha Melia
November 2018 marked five years since the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme was born.
Developed by the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), the aim was to provide training, assistance and accreditation to riding centres to enable more disabled people to participate in horse riding.
As the project was launched nationally it has gone from strength to strength opening up more opportunities and helping to support RDA Groups. Here we look back over some of the pivotal moments of the scheme so far.
November 2013 – with the support of Sport England funding, Accessibility Mark was launched as a pilot project following research that showed more disabled people wanted to take up horse riding than there was facility to do so. The initial pilot project focused on three areas of England, Avon, Warwickshire and Surrey. Former Sport England Chief Executive, Jenny Price explains the Accessibility Mark concept to RDA Groups at the RDA AGM.
March 2014 – Radway Riding School, in Warwickshire becomes the first Accessibility Mark accredited centre, with another four centres having received their initial visit from an Accessibility Support Office (ASO).
December 2014 – at the end of 2014, while still only a pilot project, Accessibility Mark had 13 accredited centres.
November 2015 – Accessibility Mark officially launched and rolled out nationally following a vote of confidence at the RDA AGM.
May 2016 – Accessibility Mark reaches milestone of 30 accredited centres nationally.
March 2017 – Accessibility Mark joined forces with Disabled Access Day, with a number of accredited centres holding special events in support of the national day to encourage disabled people to try something new. Riders that attended these events are still actively riding today and their lives have been enriched by their involvement with horses.
June 2017 – RDA appeal for more centres to apply for the accreditation in the North Midlands area where unmet demand was recognised to be higher than anywhere else in the UK.
October 2017 – Divoky Riding School was crowned the ‘Best Rural Sporting Business’ at the Rural Business Awards 2017. The school’s Accessibility Mark status formed part of their presentation to reflect their uniqueness, success and vision as a business.
September 2018 – RDA appeals for more centres in the West Midlands area to help meet a growing demand for riding opportunities in the area.
August 2018 – Sparsholt College in Hampshire gained accreditation to become the 50th Accessibility Mark centre.
With RDA celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2019, Accessibility Mark is testament to how the charity has broken down barriers in disabled sport and now provides access to some of the highest quality support and coaching available in the world.
As well as the golden anniversary, Accessibility Mark is also looking forward to once again joining forces with Disabled Access Day, on March 16, 2019.
Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that they offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure they provide you with a first class service and an experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.
There are currently 50 Accessibility Mark-approved centres across the country.
To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk