Carriage driving inspires people who are unable to ride a horse but are capable and have the courage to either climb on to a carriage or to be pushed up a ramp onto the carriage in their wheelchair. Safety straps secure the wheelchair and they can then drive out into the countryside enjoying a one to one experience with a pony or horse with the feeling of freedom that this brings.
The sense of achievement the client feels when they ask a pony or horse to walk on or trot on is tremendous. The ponies are all trained to obey voice command and the rewards that the clients experiences, as they feel they have control, is very liberating.
Clients can sometimes arrive with us not feeling at their best but when they realise they are carriage driving positive changes are noticeable and they cannot wait to get on board and set off on one of our two, four wheeled, carriages.
The Bennington Wagonette is the largest carriage and can take the carer on board to look after the client. The other carriage is smaller and often means that the carer has to ride a bicycle alongside. Another volunteer rides a cycle at the back of the carriage with yet another at the front to warn of any traffic coming down the road. As you can understand, with such care we always require three volunteers and the instructor (coach) each time we go out, so we always welcoming help and you get the benefit of a good workout at the same time.
There is no doubt that carriage driving has a marked therapeutic benefit, both physical and mental. For those with limited movement it provides exercise for the body, at the same time the experience gives a sense of personal achievement taking part in something so very different from the daily routine.