February 2020 saw the unveiling of Island Riding Centre’s brand new Para Rider hoist from Dolphin Mobility. This is the Island’s only equine mobility hoist and enables all wheelchair bound adults and children the opportunity to get onto horse back.
The first lucky rider to use the hoist was Steven Benson from Wootton. Steven who suffers from cerebral palsy is already a regular visitor to IRC with Scope attending ‘Messy Play’ sessions made possible by the recently installed Changing Places toilet which enables him and others the chance to leave their home for a welcome change of scene and which until Friday meant only watching the horses.
However for his 31st birthday he was able to get on horseback for the first time since he was a child. Watched and supported by his mum Carol and dad Chris, Steven alongside his regular carers Karen and Kit, IRC instructor Jo Hogan, and Wight Horse Community Interest Company, trustee Christina Czarkowski-Crouch was lifted from his chair onto Bluebell who patiently walked him round in the comfort of the centre’s indoor arena.
His emotional mum Carol said "Many years ago when Steven was a lot smaller he used to absolutely love horse riding. Unfortunately due to his size it became impossible to lift him up on to a horse. This opportunity now enables him to get back in the saddle and enjoy an activity he loves. It will also enable others like Steven to take full advantage of this facility which is fantastic"
The Para Rider hoist was funded by Wight Horse CIC with the fantastic support of Wave FM’s Cash 4 Kids and Ryde School’s Trinity House which selected it as their chosen charity for this year and held a ‘pub quiz’, ‘bake sale’ and line dancing as part of their fund raising activities.
Owner of Island Riding Centre and co-founder of the Wight Horse CIC, Louise Buckner said, "The opening of our hoist by Steven and to see him ride today has made us all very proud. We all work very hard in making IRC accessible and open to all, we are an RDA Accessibility Mark Centre which allows us not only welcome disabled people to ride in knowledge that we are an approved centre but we have the autonomy to raise money ourselves and spend it through our Wight Horse CIC".