Nicola Sheerin and I visited Connemara Therapeutic Riding in Connemara on 21st January 2020, to present a cheque for €13,500 towards the cost of a swimming pool hoist. Nicola and I were also given a tour of the riding school, which is in the most wonderful setting, situated by a lake.
About Connemara Therapeutic Riding
Connemara Therapeutic Riding is a Community Group founded with support from various agencies and businesses in the Connemara area and beyond, including Forum Connemara and the Connemara Pony Breeders Society.
The Charity provides therapeutic interventions for intellectually and physically disabled children and adults, who would otherwise have an 80 mile round trip to access any specialist therapies and services.
Many of the parents/carers are elderly and have been looking after physically and mentally disabled adults for a great number of years. This has obviously taken a toll on their own health. An eighty mile round trip is simply not feasible for these families as the journey is so stressful that, by the time they arrive, their loved ones are in no fit state to participate in the treatments or services on offer.
Connemara Therapeutic Riding believes in an all-inclusive, family experience approach. It offers Sibling Sessions and provides much needed respite for parents/carers while their children are safe in the hands of fully trained and qualified coaches. All leaders and side walkers are volunteers and they are trained by qualified coaches.
The therapy ponies are all Registered Connemara Ponies, bred, reared and trained in Connemara. They have proven to be the perfect therapy pony, calm and placid, seeming to innately understand what is required of them.
Clifden swimming pool and Connemara Therapeutic Riding
As one of the only Charities of this type in this part of rural Ireland, Connemara Therapeutic Riding is involved in providing its beneficiaries with other non-equine activities, which includes a support for local swimming sessions.
Clifden is the largest town in the region of County Galway and, for the last 17 years, the swimming pool there has been the main focal point for families with disabilities. Sadly, two years ago the hoist, used to help the disabled members of the community enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the water, stopped working and is unable to be repaired.
This has been devastating for the families who relied on the swimming pool, not only for the physical benefits but also to feel part of a group. The hotel provided lessons for disabled people completely free of charge but cannot afford to provide a new hoist. The grant cheque for €13,500 is intended to help purchased a new one.
The cheque presentation
Receiving the cheque on the day was Karen Mannion, Secretary of Connemara Therapeutic Riding. Apart from Karen, it did seem like half of Clifden turned out for the cheque presentation, including the local town councillor! The hotel where we met, even provided free refreshments for all the locals who attended the cheque presentation.
To find out more about Connemara Therapeutic Riding (and to see some fabulous photos of the area around Connemara), please visit their website: http://www.connemaratherapeuticriding.com/