Swimming for the horses

News article

Swimming for the horses
Swimming for the horses

By swimming half a mile, Debbie from our Larchfield Community has raised over £100 for a place that’s dear to her heart – the Unicorn Centre, a riding for the disabled facility that backs onto Larchfield.

‘We were absolutely delighted’, says Claire Pitt, the Centre’s manager. ‘Debbie’s swim was quite an achievement, and her donation helped meet the winter feed bill for the ponies and buy an item of new tack. We are
super, super grateful!’

‘With horses, you have to be the boss’

At the Unicorn Centre, children and adults with disabilities have a chance to get to know the specially-trained horses and ponies, and learn to ride. There are two purpose-built arenas and safe bridleways.

Over the last five years it has almost become Debbie’s second home. As well as riding, she has done her Level 1 NVQ in Horse Care at the Centre, and is now putting her skills into practice by volunteering every Friday.

‘I tack up, groom and get the horses for lessons’, she explains. ‘You have to lead them in a circle to the centre of the arena. They’ve got to stand there quietly without moving away from the mounting block. You’ve just got to be polite but very strict with them. Because horses say, oh, I want to eat, and you have to say no. You have to be the boss.’

‘It was a lot of hard work’ Debbie had been concerned for some time that the Unicorn Centre had been short of money; as a charity it depends on donations to stay open. Then she hit on the idea of matching up her other favourite sport of swimming with a bit of fundraising.

Karin, who works at Larchfield, supported her – and her friends and family sponsored her. ‘It was brilliant’, Debbie says. ‘A lot of hard work, with the swim, the training, and collecting the money from everyone.’

‘Karin went in the water with me and gave me encouragement. We did two lengths and then she would say “just two more lengths”. I couldn’t have done it without Karin. ‘We sent a proper cheque. They have got a picture of me with it on the notice board. It makes me feel proud.