We know and can provide solid EVIDENCE OF SUCCESSFUL OUTCOMES from equine therapy for many hard to reach needs in our community – Necarne could provide support for many local needs that exist in Fermanagh and Tyrone, complimenting and adding to existing services, it could provide support for recovery for our community living within NI’s highest in world of PTSD, for drug or alcohol dependancy, suicidal ideation, self harm, young people at risk of harm, depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorders, dissociative disorders, alzheimer’s disease, dementia, autism, sensory disorders, domestic violence, addictions, eating disorders, communication difficulties, bereavement, providing physical wellbeing and social skills, cerebral palsy, cerebral vascular accident (a stroke) development delay, down’s syndrome, learning or language disabilities, multiple sclerosis, personal injury (e.g. damage to the body/mind after an accident)
As we are at an early stage of this campaign the evidence of local needs under the list of needs that can benefit given above, is still under development and growing as below…..
Fermanagh has highest rates of learning disabilities in NI and in Western Area highest rates of ‘Children reported with a Disability’ and ‘Children reported with a Learning Disability’
Why is it Important? Children with disabilities are at risk of social and health inequalities. Disability is associated with social class. There is a higher incidence of children with disability in families where the parents have unskilled occupations compared to parents in skilled or managerial occupations. Having a disability also makes a child more vulnerable to socio-economic circumstances. They have an increased risk of being abused. Unless the social aspects of the disability are addressed, children potentially have poorer access to opportunities such as education, play, sport, social networks as well as access to services such as health.
See more about the profile of this community in which Necarne rests as a vital opportunity in this document disabled-children-fermanagh-doc-monitoring-2012
Fermanagh also has the highest rate for wheel chair adaptations in all of Northern Ireland
This is another indicator of the substantially higher needs of those with disabilities in Fermanagh.
It is common knowledge that 8 million a year has been stripped out of the budget for care and support of those with Learning Disabilities – each year for the last five years.
This group of invisible most vulnerable young people cannot be ignored repeatedly. Their carers are exhausted in their roles as carers without enough support. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation, being forgotten and ignored. Equine therapy and RDA is in high demand by this group as it is so effective on so many levels. Not including a process to hear their needs, and ensure they are met, in relation to the future of our top equestrian facility adds insult to injury and is neglectful by our council.
It is also common knowledge and many reports document that autism services continue to fail those with autism in our community. There is also strong evidence for equine therapy and horse riding being very beneficial and popular with those on the autism spectrum. The council should ensure that there is adequate opportunity to hear from people with autism and ensure plans for the future of Necarne include plans for how an equine facility at Necarne could improve their quality of life and ease sensory integration issues.
NI as a whole has one of the highest rates of PTSD in the world following years of ‘the troubles’ as well as the trauma in families from the 1000s who have died by suicide’ there is strong evidence of equine therapy and horse riding being very beneficial to those with PTSD. NI including Fermanagh lacks a plan to deal with it’s past and an effective plan to heal division and trauma in its community. With the vast majority of our children and young people in segregated education and sport and community groups also mainly serrated there is a clear need for integrated sporting activity and horse riding and equine therapy is one of the few sporting activities that is not a single identity sport but works well on a cross community basis and as such the Council should be fully supporting equestrian sport to be open and inclusively operated at Necarne.
Not only does Fermanagh have high rates of disabilities in its community but also it is the most remote county with poor transport links – further disadvantaging those with disabilities. Fermanagh is bi-sected by lakes creating more rurally isolated environments for those already made vulnerable with disabilities. It is therefore critically important that the council considers these invisible vulnerable people when planning services.
These are just a couple of sample statistics that show an undeniable needs for young people with disabilities and learning disabilities. Where there have been high rates of young people with disabilities there are inevitably adults with learning disabilities. Many of these are in need of the physical and psychological benefits of equine therapy and horse riding.
21% of people in the local area have a long term health problem or disability
FO Council say they will “Provide opportunities for children and young people with disabilities to enjoy sporting activities”.
In the western board area the highest rate of children with disabilities is in Fermanagh
You can read case studies from the RDA here
Given the clear needs in Fermanagh from our disabled children and adults it is essential that Necarne is made available ASAP to those in most need in our community.
Vital Aspects missing from the Councils Consideration of the future of this venue.
Young People in Need
Necarne has huge facilities which are badly needed as so many young people across the county in small riding clubs are out in cold and wet conditions when this council owned facilities lie empty.
( For example; a riding centre in Lack, experiences a large demand from surrounding areas for children wanting to ride and work with horses. All these children getting soaking wet and freezing cold whilst Necarne lies empty and the riding instructor’s pleas to use space to get roof over their head have been ignored by council. An enthusiastic teacher of young people, this teacher is keen to share and work together with others to make a project happen. Often lessons and events the children are keen to attend and participate in have to be cancelled due to the weather. Local facilities cannot meet local needs. Children can’t learn when they are cold and wet and it’s also a child protection issue – children’s basic needs to be warm and dry need to be met in our community. The health and well being of children in our local area must be a priority our council cannot ignore. Local children and young people need a riding school in Necarne Castle.
Riding for the Disabled. (RDA) (Most Urgent and Most in Need Group)
CAFRE college have an indoor arena a the college but their priority, understandably is their students needs. The RDA are grateful to get a roof over their head at CAFRE however, they are the only NI club where they as volunteers have to bring their own horses for children to use. RDA need quiet well ridden aged ponies normally found in a riding school – not the prize winning eventers and racehorses used by experienced riders in CAFRE, volunteers with limited time have to bring their own ponies for those with disabilities to ride – often they are not available or weather curtails. Other RDA centres are run at riding centres where the children can do all the grooming and tacking up and care and riding – without time or facility limits. There are no suitable or available stables or horses at CAFRE for disabled young people to work with horses, grooming and tacking up in the stables etc before they enter the arena to ride. They have a lot of needs which they currently cannot meet as they are not part of a riding school base – as there is no facility currently open to them in Fermanagh because they cannot access the stables and arenas at Necarne. The RDA gets calls from doctors and health receptionists for not just learning disabled, but mental health workers and also regarding those with physical disabilities, but they can’t meet the needs. There are many outside of special school provision who need RDA but they can only do 1 ride from Willowbridge special school – as the education bus company cut backs mean only one bus trip to RDA – and one ride for community – as volunteers have limited time and have to use their own ponies, bringing all their own horses and equipment. Local doctors and physiotherapists are increasing recognition that horse care and riding has huge benefits both physically and psychologically, for many issues such as those wth cerebral palsy etc – but they cannot meet needs. If all the empty stables at Necarne had ponies in them that were regularly used in riding schools so were therefore safe and well used to handling – it would help RDA meet the needs of our most vulnerable young people and adults in our community. Necarne facility could help bring groups together to work together to meet needs. Omagh RDA are flat out seven days a week providing for local needs- but in Fermanagh where needs are highest in western area with highest number of disabled children and adults – the RDA and equine therapy is at its lowest.
There is no riding for the disabled special olympics club in Fermanagh – this is a hugely valuable life enhancing provision for disabled young people. The nearest option is in Omagh at Omagh RDA but facilities there are extremely limited, they are oversubscribed and there are transport restrictions from WELB. People with disabilities need local access to local activities they should not be disadvantaged by having to travel when one of NI’s top equestrian facilities lies empty and is accessible in our local community – in the face of so much local need as evidenced by statistics.
Wider Community Needs
Other groups who need to be facilitated in having their say about what happens to the estate.
Necarne used to provide fantastic facilities, and events, like no other in Ireland for showjumping, dressage and eventing. It has seen many famous riders pass through it and it has been the base where many brilliant riders were taught. There should be encouragement for people to utilise the equestrian facilities with grants and funds – but no one group could do this on their own – there needs to be a process to open up to local needs so they can come together to make it work. Ecclesville in Fintona is a good example of this – hosting all groups and clubs and is very busy with leagues etc going on all the time. Even Fintona does not have a cross country course. Currently from here to go to a league for show jumping people have to go to Fintona, Cavan or Castle Leslie in Monaghan. To get access to a cross country course people have to go to Moy in Dungannon or Monaghan. There is a huge need from the local horse riding community to use this facility. This is our Number One equestrian facility in the county and one of the best in Ireland, and the council needs to open facilitation and expressions of interest and open engagement with the equestrian community on it’s use. The local equestrian community should be considered stake holders in a facility where millions of pounds of tax payers money has been spent to make it an equestrian facility for our community. Elected representatives need to ensure a process of engagement should be opened and made part of the plans for the future of Necarne. It would be a huge boost to equine community if iNecarne were opened up to meet needs.
Perhaps the councillors should visit some of the thriving equestrian facilities in the country and see them in action so they can appreciate the potential.
There are many groups addressing health and social need in the county, many of those are concerned with mental health and wellbeing could benefit from this facility allowing for equine therapy – a proven benefit to many. It’s not just mental health but also physical health benefits, those recovering from trauma and PTSD, children with learning disabilities and autism but also those needing occupational health therapy that could benefit from use of an open equine facility at Necarne. There are many existing needs which are not part of the current council process, and will not be scored in the tender assessments, or in the consideration of the future of the Necarne facility. Elected representatives need to find a way to ensure local needs are met in future plans for Necarne.
Other local and regional gaps which Necarne as an equestrian facility could address:
There is no special olympics riding club facility in Fermanagh, there are many young people with disabilities in Fermanagh who would love to take part in this training and opportunity but there is no facility which can cater for this – the nearest is in Omagh but this is too far for the young people and their families or carers to be able to attend regularly.
There is no access to BHS (British Horse Society) training facilities in entire region – only Belfast or Dublin provide training and examination bases. The BHS provides the best and most internationally recognised exams in the world. These popular courses and exams greatly assist rider development and the industry, but neither training nor exams are provided in this region.
We have an Equine college locally and Necarne is a top facility but there is little opportunity to develop equine employment opportunities locally so we are losing all young people trained at CAFRE in equine management to other areas or abroad. Necarne must be developed and retained as an equestrian facility and elected representatives must now represent the needs of the community to ensure, after millions spent creating this top equestrian facility, it remains as an equestrian facility that the community can avail off.
Locally in Fermanagh for riders, leisure and competition in Fermanagh provision is virtually non existent – we are working on an illustration of this.
Here, below is the draft work in progress regarding Tyrone equestrian needs;