Mullaghmore Equestrian Centre named overall winner at CARA National Inclusion Awards
Mullaghmore Equestrian Centre in Co Monaghan has been named Hyundai Best Overall Winner and Adventure Category winner at the 2016 CARA National Inclusion Awards, while Pony Tales Stables in Co Kerry has also been honored, receiving the runner-up award in the Adventure Category.
Eddie Guyett from Hyundai Ireland (on left) and Pat Flanagan (CARA/Tralee IT) present Marese McCarra of Mullaghmore Equestrian Centre, Co Monaghan with the Hyundai Best Overall Winner Award at the CARA National Inclusion Awards
CARA is a national organisation which provides a collaborative and partnership platform throughout Ireland, to impact on enhancing sport and physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities. The CARA National Inclusion Awards recognizes organisations and people who contribute to enhancing participation opportunities for people with disabilities in sport and physical activity. The purpose of the awards is to highlight and acknowledge best practice in relation to provision for people with disabilities in sport and physical activity.
Mullaghmore Equestrian Centre in Monaghan provides horse riding courses and training to riders of all levels and abilities and has been in operation since 2007. The proprietor, Marese McCarra, has been increasingly involved in the provision of specialized training to persons with a wide range of disabilities and behavioral issues. Arising from this experience and increased demand for this type of accessible equestrian experience that can be enjoyed by all children and adults,
Marese decided to pursue a qualification in Therapeutic Riding Instruction (one of 12 nationally). Based on her experience and the evidence of progression by participants as a result of accessible equestrian opportunities (specifically sensory stimulation), Marese applied for and successfully received funding from the National Lottery to develop an outdoor Sensory Trail which allows adults and children with particular sensory processing disorders associated with their disability (Autism, Down Syndrome, Dyspraxia), to fully enjoy the full equestrian experience.
Speaking after receiving the award, Marese McCarra said: “I am absolutely delighted and thrilled to have won not only the Adventure Provider category but also the Best Overall Award, I would like to acknowledge and thank the extremely hardworking bunch of volunteers who assist me at the centre, and without them we would not be able to deliver this level of service to our clients”
Mullaghmore EC provides opportunities for physical activities through horse-riding animal care and stable management (mounted and unmounted riders). Specifically, it provides a physical exercise experience for people who cannot participate in other sports and exercise on account of their disability. In addition, it promotes the mental health of participants through the use of equine assisted learning which encourages social interaction, self-confidence and other educational benefits (including speech progression, motor skills, hand-eye coordination etc)
Marese McCarra added, "The health benefits of physical exercise are well documented, and experience shows that people with disabilities can experience many barriers to engaging in and enjoying physical activity. Barriers are mostly presented by society and not on account of a disability. We at this centre feel that we are addressing these barriers by developing our facility in particular with the development of our sensory trail which is specifically designed for use by our riders with a disability. Many people with physical and learning disabilities display issues related to sensory processing disorder. Our sensory trail allows opportunity to enjoy the physical activity while stimulating the senses. Sensory processing disorders can significantly impact on a person’s ability to engage in and enjoy a physical activity. Our sensory trail provides stimulation through sight, touch, smell, sound and taste. Similar to a sensory garden, a sensory trail allows participants to experience sensory stimulation on horseback. The sensory trail provides therapy that is complimentary and recommended by early intervention services. This fully accessible sensory trail not only accommodates the needs of people with a disability but can be enjoyed by all the community. We feel this project promotes inclusiveness and integration by providing the opportunity for everyone to participate regardless of their abilities.
Pony Tales Stables which is based at Faha, Killarney Co Kerry, was named runner-up in the Adventure category for the excellent work they do with disabled and special needs clients that attend their therapeutic riding programme .
Tim Clifford from Pony Tales Stables said: "We were delighted to be honored at the CARA National Inclusion Awards.. The award is not only for us, the award is for our riders that face simple life challenges that most of us take for granted . This award will help us to promote awareness that horse riding is for everyone. We work with groups and individuals with all kinds of challenges such as wheelchair users, those with autism and people with visual impairments.
"Those with visual impairments benefit from being able to touch and feel the horse, as well as feeling the motion of the horse whilst riding, and those with autism not only benefit from the way they engage with the horse, but also from the instructions given by our experienced instructors and volunteers. Our goal is to help these riders understand that their disability is a challenge and not a limitation of life’s activities, in a fun, encouraging environment."
Horse Sport Ireland would like to congratulate Mullaghmore Equestrian Centre and Pony Tales Stales for receiving such prestigious awards.