A RIDING school is working to help those with special needs through their love of horses.

The Riding Centre for Special People – based in Bishop Auckland – started 12 years ago after owners Nick and Christine Barratt Atkin decided to combine their equine expertise with their passion for helping people.

The riding school has recently been named one of the first in County Durham to receive a five-star rating by Durham County Council.

Mrs Barratt Atkin said: "There was a need for a facility like ours in County Durham.

"We began with our son’s two ponies and three other horses and now offer around 6,000 rides and carriage rides a year to people from all over. The riders are able to witness the benefits riding therapy can bring."

As well as riding for the disabled, the centre provides lessons on an evening and at a weekend for beginners, novices, and nervous riders.

For more information visit ridingcentreforspecialpeople.com