North Region
County Durham

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL At the Riding Centre for Special People (RCfSP) we believe and have experienced the benefits of working with and spending time with animals. We have various animals living with us and encourage visitors to meet and make friends with our furry friends.
Animal petting is proven to very therapeutic!

At our centre we have goats, dogs of various sizes and small ponies.

Just being around animals and caring for them can be hugely beneficial both physically and mentally.
Some of the benefits of animal assisted therapy are:
ϖ It’s fun
ϖ It helps combat loneliness and encourages social integration.
ϖ Promotes a sense of responsibility and empathy with others.
ϖ Develops self-esteem, independence and self-confidence.
ϖ Reduces stress
ϖ Encourages mobility.

As part of our petting programme we encourage:
ϖ Grooming - getting a dirty horse clean increases the heart rate and really warms you up on a cold day.
ϖ Picking out a horse's feet will help develop fine motor skills - as does tacking up and putting on harness!
ϖ Feeding horses requires measurement skills and develops a sense - putting its needs first!
ϖ Play and petting of smaller animals - develops handling skills, behaviour skills and bonding with animals to create happiness and self-satisfaction.

Throughout the world, hundreds of thousands of individuals with and without special needs experience the rewarding benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). A physical, cognitive or emotional special need does not limit a person from interacting with horses. In fact, such interactions can prove highly rewarding. For instance, experiencing the rhythmic motion of a horse can be very beneficial. Riding a horse moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, so riders with physical needs often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength.
Whether it's a five-year-old with Down syndrome, a 45-year-old recovering from a spinal cord injury, a senior citizen recovers from a stroke or a teenager struggling with depression, research shows that individuals of all ages who participate in EAAT can experience physical and emotional rewards. For individuals with emotional challenges, the unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience and self-esteem. For teams in the corporate workplace and any individual seeking better leadership, team building or communication skills, working with horses provide a powerful new paradigm.

Our preliminary results indicate that levels of serotonin, a hormone in humans that helps fight depression, rise dramatically after interaction with live animals, specifically dogs,” said Rebecca Johnson, MU professor of nursing and veterinary medicine, who presented these initial findings at the Companion Animals: Fountains of Health conference at Barcelona Autonomous University last month. “This hormone is critical in the psychological well-being of an individual. In addition, we have discovered that there is no substitute for the real thing.

Sessions need to be booked and as they are very popular!
Riding Centre for Special People 2018 © Computer Insight
What our visitors say:
Anna - attends two days a week. “ I like riding the best! Morgan is my favourite horse. I like caring for the rabbits and dogs too." Anna has made significant progress in horse riding over the last nine months. She is showing and improvement in communication and gets really excited at doing art activities.
Interesting facts:
Horses can live well into their 30's. The oldest horse was apparently "Old Billy" who lived until he was 62
Where we are
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Wear Valley RDA

Our resident goats, Dusty with sisters Lizzie and Victoria!

Our rabbits Holly and Molly enjoy being petted by our clients

Pigs: Winston and Churchill, don't forget to bring any soft veg, fruit or bread for them!
Alfie, white lurcher

Our lovely Jack Russell Terrier, Smithy
Ivan, black lurcher - watch your lunch when these two are around!
Riding Centre for Special People Ltd

" There is something about the outside of a horse, that is good for the inside of a man ”, Winston S Churchill