A New Year, a new Term and new volunteering opportunities! Make this your year to volunteer, with Muirfield Riding Therapy. There are lots of well researched health benefits to volunteering, it might even help you get rid of the January blues!
We are looking for people to join our volunteering team in various riding therapy sessions – especially Tuesday afternoons with our lead physiotherapist Heather Falconer, Wednesday evenings, and as part of our brand new Mechanical Horse session. If you’ve been put off in the past perhaps due to a fear of horses, or mud, then our new Mechanical Horse session might just be the one for you!
You don’t need any special equestrian skills to volunteer with us at any of our sessions, we’ll take you through our special training, with a training mentor, at your own pace.
We call our Mechanical Horse, Oreo. This horse-shaped, high tech piece of physiotherapy equipment responds to leg and hand movements like a real horse. Oreo is an important addition to our Centre, offering benefits to Riders and Therapists. He helps our Physiotherapists with Riders’ biomechanics assessments, offering top of the range postural analysis to improve muscle tone, strength and symmetry.
In 2019 our team of volunteers gave 16,000 hours of volunteering. This meant we were able to provide over 3,500 hours of life-changing Riding Therapy to people with disabilities, free of charge. And we had lots of fun too. Be part of the team.
What a difference a year makes! We would like to thank everyone who has been part of our celebrations, our Riders, friends and families, our volunteer team, our supporters and our sponsors. You have contributed in so many ways, and we are thankful for each and everyone one of you.
The theme for our 30th birthday year has been all about raising funds for, and awareness of, our work to enable us to deliver projects which will set us up for the next 30 years! Let’s take a look back at some highlights from a truly fantastic celebratory year.
The past 12 months have gone by at a gallop since we launched our 30th anniversary celebrations back in September 2018 with a special Raceday at Musselburgh Race Course.
We had to say bon voyage to Therapy Pony Tess who is now enjoying retirement, and a sad farewell to Hijarrandi this year.
But we are delighted to have welcomed Lillie, Willis, Callie and Highland pony Kara. MacGregor was especially taken with Kara…
The Rotary Club of North Berwick are wonderful supporters of the charity, especially marshalling at our events, and honoured us with beneficiary charity status at their sellout annual Classic Car Tour in April 2019.
We are also lucky enough to have the support of many local Rotary groups, not least The Rotary Club of Longniddry and District who this year generously funded the printing of our brand new Volunteer Handbook.
Shout out to all our fantastic pony sponsors and to our Sharers who not only support us in the financial upkeep of our Ponies but, importantly, help us keep our precious Therapy Ponies’ lives enriched.
Our supporters help us in so many ways – Riders’ filling their Coin Boxes, Agnes’ wonderful baking at our Coffee Mornings, Brenda’s beautiful knitting and crafting, June’s gardening skills, Joyce’s wonderful pony photography and Jim’s stunning photos capturing our work, our brilliant event organisers – and so much more.
We welcomed American Master Classical Guitarist Alex Komodore who gave a beautiful Concert at Dirleton Kirk back in May.
Our annual Summer Show for Horses and Ponies back in July was our biggest ever, and our Coaches supported some of our Riders to take part too. Thank you to Lucy from MacGregor Healthcare Ltd our Show’s main sponsor and a great supporter of the charity, and to all our wonderful sponsors and volunteer Judges. We couldn’t do it without you.
In September, our fantastic Edinburgh Kiltwalk Team which included volunteers, riders and supporters, raised a phenomenal £8,535 – wow, now that’s teamwork!
Later that month we had our very memorable Riders’ Fun Day celebration with families friends and supporters.
There was lots more fun to come in October; we loved having the young student band led by Knox Academy music teacher Liz Woodsend entertaining us all at our Indoor Market!
And we had a swell time at our Blingo By The Sea fundraiser making lots of new friends!
And speaking of new friends, we made even more at this year’s annual Charity Golf Day at Muirfield Golf Course! We were delighted to have been chosen as their beneficiary charity. With very grateful thanks to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, our sponsors – Beatitude, Bravo Whisky Golf, Henry Jewellers of North Berwick and NB Gin – and our Golf Pro Alasdair Good, our guests had a ball! We even had a Hole In One! Well done to our deserving winners, Renaissance Braves! A phenomenal £24,000 was raised.
One of our young volunteers, North Berwick High School student Mairi and her team won a £3,000 grant for Muirfield Riding Therapy!
Our annual Christmas Coffee Morning moved to a new venue, Gullane Village Hall!
And we also had a big birthday party! ‘The Three Chairs’ – our founder Gill Morrison, longstanding former Chair Susan Law MBE and current Chair Michelle Sutton – led the fun at our 30th Birthday Party at Aberlady Village Hall, showing a wonderful presentation of the past 30 years of MRT and cutting our magnificent cake donated by volunteer Wendy!
Look who came to visit the kids at our annual Children’s Christmas Party at The Mallard Hotel, Gullane this year!
We are very grateful to Longniddry Parish Church for hosting their lovely Carol Service for us, and to Heidi Innes and Holly Carter for choosing us as their beneficiary charity for their ‘Songs for Christmas’ concert at Tyninghame Village Hall.
And so we come to the end of 2019. We raise a festive toast to everyone who has been involved in making Muirfield Riding Therapy what it is today, thank you.
And we also look forward to the next 30 years… we have lots of exciting plans coming up, starting in 2020 by celebrating 10 years of our pioneering partnership with the NHS, thanks to our Group physiotherapist Heather Falconer.
Merry Christmas everyone, see you in the New Year!
Muirfield Riding Therapy are looking for experienced, confident sharers for their equine team.
You must be able to work on your own and have experience in schooling and handling different types of equines.
Financial contribution per month and a commitment to ride regularly. Also the usual tasks that come with equines ie poo picking your field when you ride and cleaning your tack after.
MRT have a fantastic team of sharers already and there is a great level of support offered.
For enquiries please contact office on 01620 842502 or email [email protected]
Please share this post, thank you.
Our long running Winter Series is back this Sunday 27th October for its 13th year, open to ALL AGES, and we have an improved Arena surface, particularly suitable for jumping. Benefit from an all-round professional Show Jumping experience, but in a relaxed, friendly, encouraging atmosphere with a Grand Finale in March 2020.
We are delighted to be back for a 13th year of our Winter Series Show Jumping Championships, and with a new improved Arena surface too! Held at our Indoor Arena, West Fenton, the monthly events kick off this Sunday 27th October – click here view our October Schedule and Equine Flu ‘Pony Passport’ requirements– with the Final in March 2020. With a cozy Viewing Gallery and an all day cafe, your support crew can keep warm while you’re in action. Spectators are welcome, free entry!
Blingo By The Sea was a brand new fundraiser specially for our 30th anniversary year, with the aim of raising funds to enable us to deliver projects which will set us up for the next 30 years!
Last week, two of our young Friday volunteers from North Berwick High School won a competition organised by the Youth & Philanthropy Initiative Scotland, resulting in the prize of £3,000 awarded to their charity of choice, Muirfield Riding Therapy!
Muirfield Riding Therapy would not exist without its volunteers. Aged from 12-86, these individuals bring all sorts of skills, life experience and outlook to the table. The Friday afternoon session is blessed with a large proportion of school aged children who dash in at lunchtime after their morning classes, throwing their school bags aside swapping blazers for boots.
When they first start volunteering the youngsters may be shy and seem, in that teenage way, to be a bit detached. But this reticence soon disappears as they learn what is expected of them and begin to build relationships with other team members and, more importantly, with the young riders that they work with.
Having teenagers in the team helps us to break down the barriers that can exist between disabled and more able youngsters. In sessions they are just kids having fun together!
Last week two of the young Friday volunteers from North Berwick High School, submitted a presentation to the Youth & Philanthropy Initiative Scotland (YPI Scotland), a structured curricular programme, designed for secondary schools, centred on youth voice, youth action and youth philanthropy. Students compete for a £3,000 award for their charity of choice. Their presentation showed a real understanding of how MRT benefits their young riders and their families. In addition to this, the girls’ presentation also included details of our recently launched weekly drop-in cafe for people living with dementia and their families, friends and carers.
This initiative has been done in partnership with Dementia Friendly East Lothian. Over the next few months we are hoping to develop the service to introduce working with the ponies. We believe that contact with the ponies can be helpful through bringing new connections and experiences for those who come along. To do this we will need to research practices and approaches which will be safe for everyone involved, train our volunteers in working with people living with dementia and to create fliers to attract more people to come. For some of our potential guests’ transport will also be an issue and so we will work with local transport options for individuals and groups.
Competition for the prize was stiff but Mairi, Jamila and their friends’ enthusiasm and belief in the charity shone through and MRT were awarded £3000.
We are very grateful to all of our youngsters for their day to day commitment to the running of sessions, but we are especially grateful to the two girls for making such a brilliant effort in applying for this award.
We are delighted that the winning £3,000 will be used to build and develop the service we offer to people living with dementia in our community.
As the first chills of autumn crept in, the bales stretching across the vista and skeins of geese high above, teams of four riders from each of the Muirfield Riding Therapy sessions took part in a Fun Day beginning early on Sunday morning, at the centre, West Fenton, North Berwick.
Those taking part arrived promptly, were hatted and booted before mounting. Tack was checked and riders made comfy before the teams proceeded to their stations.
In the Handy Pony field, riders tackled tasks such as fishing ducks out of a pond, steering through farmyard animals and creeping up on woodland creatures. It was a magical setting for the riders to show off their rein skills, halting, stretching for all manner of objects to put in baskets, then asking their ponies to proceed to the next task. There was much hilarity as the Coaches (yes, the responsible adults!) were swept up in the fun and were seen cavorting around the course.
(Please note that at no point throughout this activity were any farmyard or woodland creatures abused!)
So, Handy Pony Course completed, riders then raised the competitive nature of the day by taking part in Gymkhana Games. Have you ever tried hanging the washing out on horse back?
As the riders raced down the arena weaving through cones, it was hard to tell who was more competitive, the riders or the volunteers!
The races required the riders to be able to ask their ponies to vary their speed, to stop, to walk on and to stand still close to a scary washing line festooned with socks. It requires good fine motor skills to pluck a sock from the line, let me tell you.
The mornings activities created healthy appetites and riders, families and friends enjoyed bacon rolls and MRT home-baking in the recently refurbished café…………..much appreciated by all on this chilly autumnal morning.
This hilarity of the morning was followed by a more sedate part of the event with a ridden Quadrille (4 ponies and riders) performed a lovely ride with lots of changes of rein and pace, circles and other school movements to music. In the Quadrille, some of our more advanced riders were able to showcase their skills, including riding independently.
They were turned out immaculately and their months of practise paid off. The Spanish Riding School better watch out, they have rivals.
And the finale to the day’s activities…….all 14 of our ponies performed an amazing Pony Parade, with complex moves around the arena. It is not often we see all our ponies in the arena at once and many of us were very moved to tears to see these lovely ponies, bathed, scrubbed and plaited to perfection. They range in size from 11.2 to 15.2 and it was lovely to see the variety of fabulous ponies we have.
Their usual jobs are a bit more sedate but they all looked amazing and behaved beautifully. MRT ponies are well cared for and their work is varied. They each have a sharer who helps MRT to look after them and give them fun outside of their workdays. Those who share the ponies have a strong bond with the ponies and were as proud as the rest of us to see the whole MRT herd performing.
The event was about celebrating MRT, its life and work. Day to day providing riding therapy for over 100 individuals each week but also, when the occasion arises, stepping up a gear and making a day of wonderful fun, games and memories.
This engendered feelings of such pride in what we do and who we are.
MRT has flourished and gone from strength to strength over the last 30 years and will continue to do so because of the commitment of our volunteers, coaches and supporters who are inspired by our wonderful riders, their families and carers.
Happy Birthday to us!
Wish us luck!
Our new Term starts this week. Therapy Pony Nico is all smiles looking forward to meeting our Riders!
Click here for all Term Dates 2019-20, from September 2019 – June 2020.
We hope to see you soon, come and visit us at the Arena even if you’re not Riding this Term, we love visitors. And don’t forget to check out What’s On, we’ve got lots happening the autumn as we celebrate our 30th anniversary!
Last year’s inaugural Indoor Market was a great success, with 50 fantastic crafters, producers and car boot-ers, lots of Christmas shoppers, live music and our Barn Cafe!
We’re back for a second year on Sunday 20th October, 11am – 3pm, and are looking for crafters, producers and car boot-ers. Bookings are now open, catch early Christmas shoppers, or do some shopping yourself. We just ask that there be no sales of baking or hot food as these are Muirfield Riding Therapy’s own primary fundraising stalls.
Tables cost £25, and our huge Arena can hold 50 tables, with a table measuring 1.8m x 0.8m set up with 1.5m space between separate stall holders. You can of course purchase more than one table for yourself and they will be placed together.
Interested Stallholders please contact [email protected] or 07772 838945
Throughout 2019 we are celebrating 30 years of providing life-changing riding therapy to children and adults with various disabilities, from East and Mid Lothian.