Archive for October, 2018

Winter Series Show Jumping 2018/19

Our Annual Winter Series Show Jumping 2018/19
Indoor Arena, West Fenton

07 October | 18 November | 09 December | 20 January | 24 February | 17 March – The Final

Our Winter Series is run to encourage less experienced riders and ponies & horses, of all ages. We always include an adult-only class.  Our six friendly events culminate in the Series Final and presentation of trophies, in March. All Class entry fee proceeds go to Muirfield Riding Therapy.

Entry is on-the-day only and costs £6 per rider per class. Clear Round is £4 per rider – buy a Clear Round entry, get one free, two attempts to win a rosette. All entry proceeds to Muirfield Riding Therapy, thank you.

Bring your friends and family – spectators are welcome and can watch the action from our cozy Viewing Gallery.  Our Cafe will be selling hot and cold food & drinks all day.

EVENT ONE is on Sunday OCTOBER 7th, 2018 – click for the Competition Schedule
Starts 09.30am Clear Round starts 10.00am

We have three trophies presented at the end of the Series in March 2019:

Wobblies Trophey
Presented to the rider/pony/horse combination which has accrued the most points from classes 1-5.

The Fiona Mossan Trophy
Presented to the rider/pony/horse combination which has accrued the most points from classes 4-9.

The Niven Family Trophy
Presented to the most improved rider of the Series.



Kishmul and other Heroes

Muirfield Riding Therapy works with a small charity called Friends of Retired MRT Ponies (FoR) to support its ponies at the end of their working lives.  Susan Law MBE, our Services Coordinator and former longstanding Chair of MRT, tells the story of a very special MRT therapy pony called Kishmul.

Kishmul and other Heroes

Kishmul came to West Fenton aged 5 from a breeder in Perthshire. And what a handsome Oatmeal Dun Highland he was when he came barging off the lorry!  I started at MRT not long after Kishmul arrived and it was love at first sight…….well, for me at least.

I was already a committed Highland enthusiast, but Kish reminded me on a regular basis that Highlands, like many native breeds, can be stubborn and strong willed.  Yet the temperament he had proved ideal for our work; generally unfazed by wriggling, vocal children and accepting of the odd positions our therapists and riders can adopt. These solid beasts, with leg at each corner, are very stoical.

In addition, his short coupling, typical to the breed, gave him a strong back and he had the ideal conformation for back-riding.
For those not familiar with back-riding, this is carried out only by physiotherapists with support from fully trained MRT volunteers and involves the therapist sitting on the pony with the child in front of her. This is used for children who have little or no head control.
It is a fairly pressurised situation for the pony. The children who benefit from it are very vulnerable, so the equine used and the team around him develop a bond. It is very important that the physiotherapist can trust the pony so that she can focus all of her attention on the little person she is working with.
Over the years I worked with Kishmul in many situations: from the “over hill and down dale treks” that Gill would take our Riders on, where danger lay in every tempting blade of grass we came across; to outings to the Jack Kane Centre, giving pony rides on KIDS OUT days, with fire engines screaming around us; to Musselburgh Racecourse where he was NOT last in his one furlong race.

We were a team, he and I. I think he recognised that I could be just as stubborn and strong-willed as him!
But it was in his role as MRT’s first back-riding pony that our best hours were spent together. His innate sense that he was carrying fragile cargo seemed to bring out the very best in this pony. In the calm atmosphere of a one to one rider situation we could simply work quietly together, anticipating and responding to the slightest movement that the physio made or instruction she gave.
Admittedly, I don’t think there are many of our long-term volunteers that Kishmul has not carted to grass, or avoided when catching, or showed his displeasure to when saddling!
He was no pushover and taught many of us that equines deserve respect, especially equines who work as therapy ponies. They have a rider, of course, and a leader giving them conflicting signals. Their body space is crowded, which can be stressful for a flight animal.

Many have come and gone, breaking our hearts as they go, but those who stay have a tough job. They are handled by many different people with different views on handling horses.
What other way can they tell us when they are being girthed too tightly or bitted too harshly than with swishing tail or flattened ears? Thankfully, MRT Volunteers now a days are all trained in a mindful way of horse handling, but older ponies have long memories of past unpleasant experiences.
And so, in his later years, Kishmul did not suffer fools (as he saw us!) gladly. He trusted few and scared many. But if he trusted you, the effort to gain his trust was repaid a hundred-fold.

Thanks to those who saw through his grumpiness and appreciated the amazing pony who worked for MRT for 20 odd years, giving hundreds of children and adults the chance to benefit from riding therapy – an achievement recognized by Princess Anne, who awarded him with a long service medal during her second visit to MRT.

Thanks to those who cared for and supported Kishmul in retirement, through Friends of Retired MRT Ponies.

And thanks to everyone at MRT who has handled Kishmul over all the years. We have learnt from him, a more mindful way of handling all of our wonderful therapy ponies. Hopefully we will continue to pass down to these valuable lessons about how we work with our ponies, treating them with respect and working in partnership to help them to do a difficult job.

This old warrior has now left us aged 29, after a great 18 months living naturally, just being a horse. He lived in a massive field with three other 16.2 retirees who dwarfed him. But he was, predictably, the boss of his herd till the end and was his own man to the end.  I will miss him in my life but know that he led a good useful life, enjoyed a wonderful retirement and died a peaceful death.

Susan Law MBE, September ‘18


Keep in touch with FoR on Facebook, Friends of Retired MRT Ponies 

Launching our 30th Anniversary at a gallop!

Muirfield Riding Therapy will be 30 years old in 2019 and we are looking for support to help us mark the occasion throughout the coming year.  We launched our celebrations at the Musselburgh Race Course Caledonian Cup Meeting on 15th September.  The special raceday was in support of MRT with six of the races at the meeting named after MRT to heighten awareness of the work we do – spot our new anniversary logo at the racecourse finish line!  Thanks to a wonderfully generous donation, and our fabulous volunteer collectors, the raceday raised a magnificent £11,000.


As a fully self-funded charity, we started life back in 1989 in a muddy field with borrowed ponies.  We’ve come a long way since then, thanks to wonderful support from the East Lothian community.  We now provide our pioneering therapy, free of charge, to around 120 children and adults each week, are supported by 250 volunteers, and need to raise around £100,000 a year to maintain our therapy services.


Our riders have a wide range of disabilities and life affecting conditions both physical and mental, and our volunteer-led organisation is supported by specialist physiotherapists and its 12 trained therapy ponies.


Muirfield Riding Therapy chair, Michelle Sutton, said:

“We are indebted for this wonderful gesture which has meant we started our 30thyear at a gallop. It costs an average of £3000 a year to maintain one of our ponies and we rely on corporate sponsorship and the efforts of many generous individuals to continue our work in East Lothian and beyond.


“The donation was most welcome and the high-profile awareness it afforded us at the Caledonian Cup Raceday is invaluable and helps greatly in explaining what we do and highlighting how people benefit from therapeutic riding.”


Musselburgh Racecourse senior operations and commercial manager, Sarah Montgomery, said:

“We have a long-standing relationship with Muirfield Riding Therapy which was one of our nominated charities some years ago. The work they do is of great value to many people and their families and we are delighted to be able to support this well-loved local equestrian related charity.”


We’d like to mark our special year in some way.  If you have been involved with MRT at anytime in our 30 year history and would like to share a story or two, or if you are interested in helping us come up with ideas and making them happen, then please get in touch.




Over £5k raised for Team MRT at Kiltwalk 2018!


The MRT Kiltwalk Team 2018, from left to right: Shirley, Susan, Michelle, Debs, Morven, Cameron, Sarah and Mandy, would like to thank everyone who supported them.  With online and offline donations counted, plus the 40% boost from the Kiltwalk’s partner, The Hunter Foundation, the fundraising total now stands £5,311.61.

The Team took on the Edinburgh Kiltwalk Big Stroll (15.5 miles) on Sunday 16 September and despite some soggy weather half way, the atmosphere was fantastic and they completed the walk in just short of 5 hours.

If anyone would like to take part in The Edinburgh Kiltwalk 2019 for MRT, we’d love to hear from you!