From the Minister

Dear Friends

Muirfield Riding Therapy

During our official Moderatorial visit to the Presbytery of Lothian in September 2016, we spent an evening at Muirfield Riding Therapy. 

Situated one mile to the south of Gullane, the charity offers the chance for people of all ages and disabilities to enjoy the therapeutic benefit of horse riding. Horse riding as therapy – as far as I am concerned horses are dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle – it turned out to be one of the best evenings of our year.

Operating five days each week with 120 riders and twelve specially trained ponies, Muirfield Riding Therapy provides a safe, stimulating environment where people, whatever their ability, have the opportunity to fulfil their potential through working with horses. 

When someone applies to attend the centre, they have a pre-riding assessment with one of the team of  physiotherapists and a therapy plan is drawn up. Speaking to one of the physios, she told me a horse’s walk mimics 93% of a human being’s walk so as each pony takes a step it transfers a normal pattern of movement to its rider. And for people with walking difficulties the therapeutic effect is remarkable.

Riding also creates other physical benefits by improving someone’s core stability, muscle tone and balance. Equally importantly however, as well as providing physical benefits, horse riding also improves self confidence and social skills, all of which can make an enormous difference to a person’s life.

David Arthur has been attending Muirfield Riding Therapy since he was aged 7 years. David had not long celebrated his 30th birthday and rather than asking his family and friends for a present, David asked for money. So it was, on the evening we visited Muirfield Riding Therapy, David and his family were there with a cheque for £800 for the centre, the other £800 being given to the Williams Syndrome charity.

Far from being a person with special needs, David is a person with special gifts and it was a pleasure to meet him.

On returning to Cramond Kirk, I was delighted to learn that for the last couple of years, one of our own young
people, 9 year old Eilidh Lawson, has been attending Muirfield Riding Therapy. Eilidh thoroughly enjoys her visits to
the centre and as she rides on the indoor circuit past the viewing gallery, she turns and gives her Mum Kirsty the biggest smile. Kirsty has nothing but praise for the staff and volunteers at Muirfield Riding Therapy and described how
wonderful they are with Eilidh and with the other riders.

Horse riding as therapy – with the evident enjoyment of the riders, the remarkable skill and commitment of the staff and volunteers, and the patience of the ponies, our evening at Muirfield Riding Therapy is one that will live
long in our memory. Later in the year I am looking forward to returning to lead a Christmas carol service at the centre, a special occasion in what is a very special place. 

With best wishes

Russell Barr 

If you would like to learn further details about Muirfield Riding Therapy you can view their website at  www.muirfieldridingtherapy.org.uk


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