New coaching scheme aims to transform lives

  • PEOPLE working in urban riding schools are working with British Equestrian (BEF) in a new scheme to help “transform lives and communities”.

    The Equi-Youth programme, funded by Sport England and run with the Pony Club, is supporting volunteers and staff, from centres including Ebony Horse Club, the Urban Equestrian Academy, St James City Farm and Park Palace Ponies, to develop their skills and enable them to coach young people.

    The 18-month scheme is designed to give a “complete coaching education”, including building skills in teaching riding, getting the most out of riders and working with young people.

    BEF head of performance pathways David Hamer said: “Interviewing for our first cohort was a very rewarding experience – we were blown away by the enthusiasm, passion for the sport, and love of horses that each candidate shared.

    “They all had a compelling narrative as to how they got into equestrianism and how much they’ve gained from being able to ride. They also expressed so much gratitude for this opportunity, but we are genuinely grateful to them for coming forward. Already, I’m enjoying following their journeys and can’t wait to see how they progress.”

    The scheme’s lead mentors are British Horse Society fellows Darrell Scaife and Sarah MacDonald.

    Mr Scaife said: “It’s been a great experience so far and the candidates are incredibly engaged, despite having to fit the programme in around busy lives and work commitments. All the coaches involved have the ability to go on and inspire so many young people and get them enjoying riding, and it’s really exciting to be a part of it.”

    Mother-of-three Shantelle Griffith, who worked for the NHS and rode as a child, wanted to get back into horses and stumbled upon the Urban Equestrian Academy, where she now volunteers.

    “I jumped at the chance to take part in the programme. It’s really interesting – Sarah and Darrell are guiding us in the right direction, making us feel really comfortable and welcome, and it’s really exciting,” she said. “I feel as though I’ve gone full circle – the course is building my confidence and confirming that I’m doing the right thing. I’m able to apply what I learn to the kids back to Urban Equestrian Academy, who inspire me as much as I’d like to inspire them.

    “Horses have always been my passion and it’s a dream for me to be able to be a coach and mentor to the young kids. It’s everything, and I feel proud to be picked to be on the programme.”

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