Horse riding and stable management lessons are now available to students at one Cheshire high school. The British Horse Society (BHS) is supporting the programme which offers equestrianism as an alternative to football and rugby. In accordance with the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) Strategy for the Horse Industry, the scheme makes riding available to those from less privileged backgrounds.

At the strategy’s launch in November Jim Knight, Minister for the Horse said: “If we can encourage education authorities to introduce young people to riding then I think we would start to break down the elitist image.”

The scheme at Weaverham High, Cheshire is funded by Sport England via BEF and is the result of careful planning by head teacher Paul Finlay, Carol Tommons, proprietor of Sandy Lane Equestrian and BHS North West Regional Development Officer Sarah Caplan. “There is a great deal of excitement at the school about this scheme,” says Finlay. “It offers a diversion from the usual sports played at schools, such as football and rugby and fits well with current government targets to increase the level of student participation in physical activities.”

If successful the scheme will be become a self-financing fixture in the curriculum at other schools across Britain. “It is a fantastic opportunity to introduce children to riding,” adds Kaplan. “Horse riding has been shown to have a very positive effect across all age groups both mentally and physically. It really is a sport for life.”