National Inclusion Awards
Adventure Provider Award category

Mullaghmore Equestrian Centre, 2016 Winner of the Adventure Provider Award & Best Hyundai Overall Award

Mullaghmore Equestrian Centre provides horse-riding courses and training to riders of all levels and abilities and has been in operation since 2007. Over the years the proprietor – Marese McCarra has been increasingly involved in the provision of specialised training to persons with a wide range of disabilities and behavioural issues. Arising from this experience and increased demand for this type of accessible equestrian experience that can be enjoyed by all children and adults, Marese qualified in Therapeutic Riding Instruction (one of 12 nationally).Based on this experience and the evidence of progression by participants as a result of accessible equestrian opportunities

Based on this experience and the evidence of progression by participants as a result of accessible equestrian opportunities (specifically sensory stimulation), Marese applied for and successfully received funding from the National Lottery to develop an outdoor Sensory Trail which allows adults and children with particular sensory processing disorders associated with their disability (autism, Down Syndrome, Dyspraxia) to fully enjoy the full equestrian experience.

We at this centre, feel that we are addressing barriers to participation by developing our facility in particular with the development of a sensory trail which is specifically designed for use by our riders with a disability. Many people with physical and learning disabilities display issues related to sensory processing disorder. Our sensory trail allows the opportunity to enjoy the physical activity while stimulating the senses.”

Mullaghmore provides opportunities for physical activities through horse-riding (mounted and unmounted riders), animal care and stable management. Specifically, it provides a physical exercise experience for people who cannot participate in other sports and exercise on account of their disability. In addition, it promotes the mental health of participants through the use of equine-assisted learning which encourages social interaction, self-confidence and other educational benefits (including speech progression, motor skills, hand-eye coordination etc.)

Sensory processing disorders can significantly impact on a person’s ability to engage in and enjoy a physical activity. A sensory trail provides stimulation through sight, touch, smell, sound and taste. Similar to a sensory garden, a sensory trail allows participants to experience sensory stimulation on horseback. A sensory trail provides therapy that is complimentary and recommended by Early Intervention services. The fully accessible sensory trail not only accommodates the needs of people with a disability but can be enjoyed by all the community. We feel this project promotes inclusiveness and integration by providing the opportunity for everyone to participate regardless of their abilities.”

Mullaghmore have an excellent philosophy and dedication and a clear commitment to inclusion in their policy documents by staff and volunteers alike. The organisation has engaged with groups and individuals with disabilities in their local community and have a very strong engagement with local disability organisations/services, informing them of what they offer.