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Good access, good inclusion, good business!

calendarDecember 2 2021

The Island Riding Centre on the Isle of Wight shows how it is done!

WeCanAccess talks about the Island Riding Centre in the Isle of Wight, an excellent example how accessibility and inclusion is good for business. At WeCanAccess, we believe that good access and inclusion is vital for an economically and socially sustainable future, so we wanted to mark the International Day of Disabled Persons 2021 by sharing the best example of this we found this year.

Best. Prize. Ever!!!

We were lucky enough to win a holiday to the Island Riding Centre on the Isle of Wight with the photo (right) of our daughter, Adi’s, first ever time on a horse. We were at a retreat for children with cancer and their families. After that ride, Adi asked us if she could go riding again, the only thing she had ever asked us for! We were very lucky to have a Riding for the Disabled (RDA) centre near us, which Adi rode at for many years.

You can read more about it here: Riding for the Disabled – WecanAccess

A little girl about 3 years old, sits on a pony. Her mum is holding her on and another lady is holding the black pony's head. The little girl has a look of concentration on her face.
Adi’s first ever pony ride!

So, aged 3, Adi’s love affair with horses began and we had to enter the competition, which was featured in Disability Review Magazine. We were so excited when we won, partly because Adi would be on holiday doing her favourite thing and partly because we are very keen to learn more about what the Island Riding Centre was doing around inclusion and accessibility.

WeCanAccess aims to demonstrate how being inclusive and accessible is more than a ‘nice’ or even the ‘right’ thing to do. Being inclusive and accessible is actually a very smart thing to do from a business point of view and Island Riding Centre is an excellent example of that.

Island Riding Centre

Louise and Paul Buckner built and opened the Centre in 2017. It comprises 5-star equestrian facilities, accommodation that is accessible for all, a café, restaurant and playground.

The Centre also has RDA Accessibility status. They have invested in a changing places toilet, which allows people with profound and multiple disabilities to use toilets when out and about. They also have extra-large mounting blocks and the Island’s only para hoist.

Wight Horse CIC

Paul and Louise also set up the Wight Horse Community Interest Company (CIC), a not for profit company providing equestrian activities for children and adults with physical limitations, special educational needs and social difficulties.

A young boy is in a hoist which is lifting him high up so he can get on the horse that is being led to him.

The CIC aims to provide a learning environment for developing physical, mental and social skills using horses either through riding, horse care or an outdoor stable yard environment. It aims to provide subsidised riding and stable management opportunities, the very latest equipment and facilities, as well as suitably trained staff so that horse riding is accessible for everyone.

“Being accessible to all is not only financially important but necessary to make life interesting, fulfilling and equal to all.”

Louise Buckner explained, “As a new project, extensive build and business, the need and way forward for all businesses is to make them accessible as possible, much as we like all businesses to be eco and have low carbon footprints.  Being accessible to all is not only financially important but necessary to make life interesting, fulfilling and equal to all.

Island Riding Centre has won awards for our environmental standards, our business standards, giving opportunities to young island people, employment, tourism and riding for all abilities.  Been part of the RDA and promoting what we have to offer wheelchair users and people with limited abilities is a vital part of our on-going plan.  Introducing the accessibility measures in the equestrian centre, the accommodation and onsite eateries makes a visit or stay comfortable for individuals or families alike.

Not all disabilities are visible so opting for a wide expanse of accessible changes is also great for everyone to use.  Our plan and design was to build with accessibility in mind but not looking different from any other builds.

Our new Restaurant was designed to make it a family friendly space that includes everyone, large toilets extra, disabled toilet, coloured rimmed doorways, non-slip one level floor, extra wide spaces between seating and a wheelchair-friendly decked area with a beautiful ramp on to the area for where Petanque can be played and enjoyed by all.

“any new business would wrong to disadvantage anyone from using their facilities & of course the financial implications of this”

As the owner of a busy complex, any new business would wrong to disadvantage anyone from using their facilities and of course the financial implications of this.  That’s plan, raise awareness work together and promote good accessible working practices everywhere, its actually quite easy!”.

Feeling welcome

For us, this ethic meant that Adi, and the rest of us, felt welcome and wanted from the minute we made the booking. Before we arrived, we were asked what our access needs were and the team ensured we had everything we needed. Had we needed additional equipment, such as hoists or shower chairs, it would have been provided.

That feeling only grew when we arrived and stepped into our accommodation. There are 9 self-catering units, built in 2017 using the National Accessibility Guidelines. They are modern, bright and airy.  Adi was excited to find an open plan wet room, which made taking a shower so much easier for her. Other units have sink and cooker units with accessible wheelchair space underneath so that a wheelchair can get up close to the kitchen action, there are downstairs bedrooms, pull cords and the staff are happy to find any extra equipment you need.

Adi was also excited by the play area and met some new playmates. Even the sheep were friendly, well if you offered them a digestive biscuit…….

Horses and more horses!

A girl rides on a dappled grey horse, stepping over a pole in an indoor arena. An instructor walks behind them.
Adi riding with trainer, Katie, by her side.

A girl on a horse is listening to the trainer beside her.

Of course, we were there for the horses. They are well schooled and calm and gentle. Adi had the opportunity to ride different horses during the week we were there. She managed to fit in a ride every day!

The grooms and instructors work with a range of abilities, across the spectrum, all ages and abilities, and show the utmost care to every rider. Adi felt happy, safe and listened to. As a result, she was able to try things in that one week that she had previously been nervous about. She cantered and jumped for the very first time! You can see what Adi got up to in the Island Riding Centre’s video, here:    No stopping this inspirational rider.

The Island Riding Centre’s passion is making riding accessible to all.

As a family with additional needs, it is sometimes easy to feel like you are being a nuisance by asking for additional items, or fussing if you ask someone to change their behaviour slightly so your child understands better, or to avoid a meltdown. But at the Island Riding Centre, nothing is too much for them to organise. No request was scoffed at. No eyes were rolled. We felt like we were leaving family behind by the time we left, and we can’t wait for our next visit!

More information

You can find out more about the Island Riding Centre by visiting their website here: Island Riding Centre

Riding School: 01983 214 000 Holidays: 01983 215 000

For riding activities please email –  info@islandriding.com

For holiday queries please email – holidays@islandriding.com

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