Welcome

For 40 years we have been riding high at Barrow Farm enabling people with special needs and disabilities to develop their abilities and enrich their lives through riding.

We have a range of events coming up, so please think about coming along to have some fun and support us.  A great fundraiser for us is the Companion Dog Show which is on 29 October 2017. For more information about what is on, see our Events page.

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Riding starts again on 6th January

Happy New Year to all our riders, volunteers and supporters. Riding starts again on Saturday 6th January 2018. Lets hope it isn’t too cold in the riding school!

Jaybee in the snow

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Writtle Christmas Tree Festival

For the fourth year we have entered a tree in the Christmas Tree Festival at All Saints Church Writtle. This year (as in the last two years) this has been masterminded by Gill Philpott. The tree is made up of green and red jumping horses that have been decorated by riders. Some of the horses and ponies feature too. The Christmas Tree Festival is open 10-5pm on Saturday 9th December and 12-5pm on Sunday 10th December with entry costing £3.

Christmas tree made out of decorated paper horses

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Barrow Farm Show on 9th July

Katie and Starra after low branches
Katie and Starra having been under the low branches

On the 9 July 2017 we held a competition at home for our riders. There were a number of classes that were offered including Introduction to Dressage, Dressage to Music, Pick Your Own Dressage and Countryside Challenge. The great thing about doing this at home was that the horses and ponies did not have to travel so we could offer it to all our riders. It was a great experience for some of our younger horses in preparation for them going out to compete at RDA competitions. It also meant that some of more inexperienced riders got to compete at home, where it was familiar rather than by being overwhelmed by competing in an unfamiliar environment.

Kiara and Nicco in the Introduction to Dressage
Kiara and Nicco in the Introduction to Dressage

The horses and ponies all behaved themselves brilliantly and the riders all did a fantastic job making judging very difficult. Some of our riders who have competed regularly did a good job but it was really good to see some new faces doing well too. Gina had never ridden a dressage test or even ridden in the outdoor manege but did an excellent job in the walk only Introduction to Dressage to come second. Boycie again demonstrated he plans to follow in Tawny’s footsteps when Holly, in her first RDA competition, won the Freestyle Dressage to Music.

Boycie and Holly doing dressage
Boycie and Holly doing dressage

All the competitors got a rosette with their favourite pony on it for taking part. The winners of each class got a trophy and the first six places all got rosettes that were kindly sponsored by Kampa, The  Peck family and Murphy the horse (who belongs to one of our helpers – Pat Rogers Harrison. In addition we presented two special new trophies that will be awarded annually. Firstly there is the Jet Trophy for the dressage rider with the highest score across the competition. Some of you may not remember but Jet was very successful at dressage both in RDA competitions taking many riders to the National Championships and also with Anne before she switched to driving. The second was the John Adler Trophy for the rider who scored the most points across the Countryside Challenge classes. John was our longest serving trustee until he retired at the end of December 2016, sadly earlier this year John passed away. John was always keen to give riders new opportunities to provide enjoyment as well physical and educational benefits. Each trophy (which will get returned each year) came with a very posh rosette that the riders will keep.

Trophy presentation
John Adler’s wife Hilary and daughter Fiona presenting the trophy and rosette to Charlotte

It was great to see so many of our riders have the opportunity to compete and all do so well. Alongside the event, some of our volunteers offered strawberry teas for refreshment. These were very popular with both riders and spectators and raised over £400. We also need to say thank you to the judges who gave up their time to adjudicate on the day, we also need to thank Suzette for providing a feast for our judges for their lunch. Lastly we need to say a big thank you to all the volunteers who helped on the day, the staff and horses worked hard but the day would not be possible without all the volunteers who led, side-walked, helped organise riders and acted as stewards.

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Rider Achievements: Grade Tests – May 2017

May was a very successful month for our riders at Barrow Farm RDA. Firstly on Open Day we had a large number of riders complete their proficiency tests or as we call them grade tests. These tests are part of the Riding for the Disabled Association’s education project ‘Learning Through Horses, Learning For Life‘. There are two separate awards, one for riding and one for horse care at each grade.

On Open Day, Sam and Emmanuele passed both Grade 1 Riding and Horse Care. For Grade 1 Riding they need to be able to sit happily and balanced on the horse or pony whilst standing, walking and changing direction. They need to demonstrate an exercise they have learnt and hold the reins. For Grade 1 Horse Care they need to know basic parts of the pony, such as eyes, mouth and legs; parts of the tack, such as reins and stirrups; and how to approach the pony safely. Katie already had her Grade 1 Riding but on Open Day she completed Grade 1 Horse Care.

Katie and Emmanuele showing off their certificates

Ryan, Amy, Charlotte, Katie P, Jack and Christopher all passed Grade 2 Riding. They had to demonstrate their steering through bending cones, stop their ponies between two poles on the ground, show a range of exercises and movements and when they got off they had to show that they knew how to put their stirrups up.

Well done to all the riders who completed Grade tests on Open Day!

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Open Day 2017

On the 20th May we held our ever popular Open Day. This is a great opportunity for riders to show off their skills and this year they did that by completing Grade Tests and taking part in the musical rides. Charlotte who has total vision impairment demonstrated how she does the Countryside Challenge with the aid of her tapping team.

The day is also an opportunity for our ponies to show off their skills. The four smallest ponies Tango, Tawny, Boycie and Starra did a musical drive where they showed off a variety of school movement whilst being long reined. The bigger horses performed rides with the staff members, Louie with Sally and Owly with Clare took part in two rides. Rafferty was ridden by Lainey and JayBee by Livvy in the afternoon ride. Unfortunately this ride was outside during the only rain shower of the day so a big thanks to all who came out to watch it.

There was lots of cake, barbecue and refreshments sold. Our spring raffle was also drawn and we need to say a big thank you to Anita for organising this. You can see some of what went on in the video below.

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Well done Jamie

Jamie running in the London MarathonA big thank you and well done to Jamie Newstead from Columbus School who ran the London Marathon to raise funds for Barrow Farm.  Thank you to everyone who sponsored her, the final total was just over £1500. The money raised on sponsored events like this is critical to pay for the day to day running of the centre to enable us to provide the opportunity for so many disabled children and adults to ride. If anyone else is interested in doing a sponsored event for us – a run, a walk, a skydive… – please get in touch.

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Jack Petchey Award Celebration Event

Rebecca, Ducky and Lainey with Mark Richardson

On Thursday 4 May 2017 student Lainey and riders, Ducky and Rebecca attended the Jack Petchey Foundation Essex Regional Youth Awards at The Civic Theatre, Chelmsford. The fun packed night included music and performance as well as a talk by Mark Richardson. Mark was part of the 4 x 400m relay team that won silver at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and gold at the World Championships in 1997. Mark also presented the Barrow Farm winners with their awards. Lainey received her award for showing exceptional care and enthusiasm in her work. Her communication skills with autistic riders have enabled them to really benefit and enjoy their riding.  Ducky received her award as she has worked really hard to improve her riding skills, especially when riding independently off the leading rein. When Ducky started riding with us she was lacking in confidence but  in the last six months she has the gained the confidence to not only ride off lead in walk but also start to do so in trot. Rebecca received her award  for working very hard in her riding, in particular to learn and improve her rising trot, this has improved her confidence as a rider.

Congratulations and a big well done to Lainey, Ducky and Rebecca!

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Sir Lee Pearson Coaching Day

On Sunday 30th April we hosted an excellent day of coaching by Paralympic rider Sir Lee Pearson. The day was funded through the Jack Petchey Foundation after volunteer and student Lainey and rider Charlotte chose to spend their Jack Petchey Achievement Awards on specialist coaching. Sir Lee has won 11 Paralympic Gold medals and was truly inspirational to the ten riders who took part. The Jack Petchey Foundation supports young people from the age of 11 to 25 and whatever the age of the rider Sir Lee challenged and encouraged them to do better during their session. All the sessions were great to watch and I think all the riders enjoyed having a photo taken with one of Sir Lee’s Gold medals from the Rio Paralympics.

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Essex and Suffolk RDA training day

On Tuesday the 25 April, Barrow Farm hosted nearly 70 coaches and volunteers from around Essex and Suffolk at a training day titled: Towards Independence. The session aimed to help volunteers support riders to encourage  more independence in all aspects of their riding. This is important as it allows the rider to reach their own potential but also can encourage the rider to become more independent when they are not on the horse.

The day started with a session on the position of the rider and what holds you might need to support the rider and how these change as the rider progresses. The session run by local physiotherapist, Louise, also looked at how novice riders loose their balance especially around corners or in transitions. There was then time to reflect on this learning as the delegates watched our regular Tuesday morning ride in progress.

There was plenty of time for discussion over lunch before the afternoon was spent taking part in three workshops. Each workshop focussed on a different RDA discipline, Countryside Challenge, Dressage and Showjumping and worked on developing the volunteers leading and support skills that would allow the rider to become more independent. The day proved very popular and hopefully all of the participants learnt something that they could take back to their riders in groups across the southern part of our region.

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Quiz night in Highwood

Well done to Margaret Cameron (one of our trustees) and her band of helpers for a fantastic quiz night in Highwood Parish Hall on 22nd April raising £360.12 for our funds. Over 70 people attended, and met the challenge of a British based quiz. Rounds included sea areas around the British Isles, British flags, Music, TV, Local Knowledge, History, and bags of herbs and spices to recognise. A good evening was had by all. The winners were the team led by Louise Fuller, our Local Parish Clerk.

David Cameron was our quiz master. Margaret and David created the quiz with help from Sara Baird their sister in law. Anne provided lovely table flowers, Karen and Richard helped with the hall set up and food and Jo managed the raffle.
Many thanks to all those who helped and who joined us for the evening.
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