Kora Blair has had a passion for riding from the age of eight but since she began riding at Cardiff Riding School, just over a year ago, her riding has progressed to the next level.
Born with three holes in her heart and a chromosome 15 23q deletion, a rare genetic disorder, which affects her speech, growth, sight, and development, Kora also has restricted movement in her elbow and forearm as the bones are fused due to synostis.
Under the watchful eye of instructor Clare Roberts, Kora from Dinas Powys in South Wales has thrived, attending weekly lessons at Cardiff Riding School which is an Accessibility Mark accredited centre.
Said Kora: “With Clare’s amazing teaching my riding has improved a lot and now Cardiff Riding School are my horse family, I love all the staff who work there.”
Her learning difficulties and borderline ADHD primarily affect Kora’s focus and concentration, so it’s important that Clare uses clear defined step by step instruction during lessons.
Cardiff Riding School is also home to an RDA Group and is a great example of how Accessibility Mark and RDA work together to benefit their riders.
Earlier this year Clare asked Kora if she would be interested in competing in The Countryside Challenge and Dressage competition, riding Claire’s own horse, Rio. This was an opportunity that was available to her through the RDA Group, as at the current time Accessibility Mark riders are not eligible to compete at the RDA National Championships.
Slightly nervous at the prospect of riding a horse that she didn’t know, Kora agreed to give it a go.
“When I first met Rio, I was excited but also nervous; Rio hadn’t been worked in a while so to start with she was a bit cheeky. I rode her over a couple of weeks and we started to get a bond.
“I get on really well with Clare and she understands my needs and knows what I can and can’t do. She lets me help out with getting Rio ready for my lesson. I feel she trusts me with Rio and is encouraging when I ride.” added Kora.
After lots of training, during both her RDA and Accessibility Mark sessions Kora, Rio and Clare headed off to their first competition at Pencoed College, where Kora is a student studying agriculture.
Exceeding all expectations the pair came first in both The Countryside Challenge and the Dressage and qualified for the 2019 RDA National Championships at Hartpury College.
With a few more weeks of intense training, Kora and Rio were ready for their moment in the spotlight at the National Championships, which would be an extra special day as it was also Kora’s 19th birthday.
Kora knew they were well prepared; her only worry was that Rio would stop in the middle of The Countryside Challenge to pinch an apple from the apple tree!
Following an outstanding performance Kora and Rio were triumphant in both sections and receiving her winning trophy from You Tube sensation This Esme, topped off a truly memorable birthday.
Clare was also incredibly proud of Kora’s achievements, adding:”Kora did amazingly well exceeding all our expectations and I look forward to working with her preparing for next year.”
Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial to riders of varying levels of disability.
There are currently 53 Accessibility Mark-approved centres across the country.
To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk