A CHARITY providing therapy to disabled people through horses has appealed for donations to help care for its horses during the coronavirus crisis.

Wear Valley Riding for the Disabled group, based at the Riding Centre for Special People, in Bishop Auckland, has suspended all activities until further notice in an effort to protect both participants and volunteers from the virus.

Activities for non-disabled riders and the centre’s day service still continue at the moment.

Group chairperson Emily Rollo said: “We support and work with vulnerable people, so we have made the decision to close our doors until the situation with coronavirus improves.

"This comes at a big price for us, as without riders we have not got an income. Our loyal horses will still need feed, hay, and to see a farrier - possibly even care from the vets which all adds up.

"With no clear idea of when the group will be able to start activities again, it is difficult to know if the group will have enough money to support our horses until riding and carriage driving resumes."

Wear Valley RDA own five horses and use an additional 10 horses who support hundreds of riders and carriage drivers each month. Research shows horse riding with RDA is not only fun but delivers physical benefits, boosts confidence, improves communication skills and helps participants to build relationships.

Instructor Claire Walker added: “The impact this will have on some of our riders, who gain so much from attending our sessions, is huge - both physically and mentally.

"It has never been so clear just how much the time they spend with our horses helps. In a bid to ensure these sessions can continue as quickly as possible after this virus is cleared and over with, we need to keep our horses well cared for, in work and fit.

"We as a team have spent nearly 13 years building up the centre and have a fantastic reputation. We need income to keep the horses well cared for whilst they are not in regular work.

“At this difficult time, we plead with the local community to help support Wear Valley RDA by donating what you can to help keep the charity running. Every little helps.”

Anyone who can help can make a donation to: www.gofundme.com/wearvalleyrda. The group can be followed on.