'Life-changing' horse-riding charity's future in doubt

For teenagers Merryn Binnie and Skye Davidson, who both have dwarfism, vaulting on the horses is more than just a hobby.

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It’s been almost eight years since Bannockburn’s much-loved riding for the disabled centre closed down.

Since then, charity Equi-Power has been filling the gap by offering people with additional support needs horse-riding activities as a form of therapy.

But with no permanent facility to keep the service going, staff and volunteers are doing all they can to keep it afloat.

“It’s been a huge challenge,” Amanda Namey, group organiser at Equi-Power said.

“We’ve moved a number of times to accommodate our growing number of horses and client base.”

Amanda, who climbed Dumyat Hill 100 times over Easter to raise money for the charity, said: “Riding for the Disabled are not nice to have facilities, they are life-changing.

“We have young people who have avoided surgery because of the strength and the flexibility they gain here, we have young people whose mental health we support day in, day out.

“It genuinely makes a massive difference to those who come.”

She said if the charity is able to raise money, it would apply to Stirling Council for planning permission for a permanent facility.

For teenagers Merryn Binnie and Skye Davidson, who both have dwarfism, vaulting on the horses is more than just a hobby.

Merryn’s dad, Kevan, said a permanent home for the charity would be life-changing.

He said: “Merryn has learned so much from all the team here. The enthusiasm is second to none.”

He added: “Her confidence has grown so much. The horses bring out so much in the kids.”

Para vaulting national champion, Lizzie Bennett, who has been wheelchair bound most of her life, said she wouldn’t be the person she is today without horse vaulting.

She said: “It gives you an identity. With a niche sport like vaulting, you have this really cool thing that people find interesting.”

She added: “It helps you to have a purpose and not feeling like people are constantly saying, oh she can’t do that, she can’t do that.”