Riding and Vaulting
Mrs Sarah Huxley
Clwyd Special Riding Centre
Our qualified Instructors, trainee Instructors and volunteers work together to provide experienced tuition for the children and adults who attend. Everyone involved in the lessons aims to give the riders the best possible experience and stimulation, providing opportunities for therapy, achievement and enjoyment.
Some of our riders have competed at Regional and National competitions, others have benefitted from the fun of a riding holiday which the Group organises every other year. Funding these activities is largely the responsibility of the other arm of the Dyffryn Ceiriog Group. Primarily based in the Ceiriog Valley, despite the distance from The Centre, this active band of volunteers has raised staggering sums of money over the years. Their Cake and Produce stall at The Valley Sheepdog Trials has acquired legendary status!
History of the Group
The idea to start a Riding for the Disabled group in Glyn Ceiriog came to Ann Sopwith in 1973 when she realised that her children’s ponies were not being used during school time and could help local children. Together with some friends, she started weekly riding sessions in her own paddock, becoming only the third RDA group in the region.
Ann and her team of volunteers expanded the group, moving to a (sloping!) outdoor arena where they were given a Blue Peter hut for refreshments and shelter. They gathered together an assortment of ponies from obliging owners and became known as the Dyffryn Ceiriog RDA.
Ann’s Group could see the positive response from the children with physical disabilities from Powys School but knew there was a gap in the provision for children with learning difficulties and so children started coming to Glyn Ceiriog from the Gwersyllt School too. By 1981 there were 36 young people of all ages riding three days a week. Such are the recognised benefits of riding that today these lessons are part of the schools’ curriculum.
Back in 1982 the growth of the group and the cost of travelling from Wrexham were two factors in the decision to set up a Special Centre; one which did not rely on good natured pony owners and the generosity of riding stables.
It required a certain vision to see the potential in the dilapidated hill farm at Llanfynydd but Ann and her team were not deterred, either by the state of the premises or the lack of funds. They “rallied the troops” and set up an independent Charity with local Trustees. Persuading the Duchess of Westminster to be The Centre’s patron brought national and local respectability and helped with the fund raising.
Then Ann brought her ponies to The Centre by lorry every Tuesday, leaving them there until Thursday when all the lessons were finished. Now the Dyffryn Ceiriog Group keeps its traditional connection with this day – running and supporting the riding and vaulting sessions which are held on Thursdays.
The aim is to ensure there are adequate funds to finance The Group’s commitments, actively support The Centre and continue to contribute towards the annual cost of one of the Thursday ponies.