A little known Surrey based charity is launching a nationwide campaign calling for pony clubs, riding schools and riders from all disciplines to support a pioneering new research project to mend broken necks and backs. SADDLE UP, which runs for a year from September, addresses one of the greatest fears for riders and has already won the support of many well-known equine organisations and riders including former Olympic Eventer Ginny Elliot and the British Horse Society.
The risk of serious injury is never far away from activities like horse riding and until recently there was no hope for those who damaged their spinal cord in a fall. Spinal Research has been researching treatments for spinal cord injury since 1981 and has had a great deal of success in the past few years. New therapies are almost ready for testing on paralysed people but the high costs of staging clinical trials for pioneering treatments like these is way beyond the resources of the charity. To help them raise enough money the charity is appealing to riders to raise some money while doing what they enjoy the most riding.
"We need to double our income to £3 million a year if we hope to get trials running by 2005 and were not going to do this without help" said Simon Barnes, Head of Communications. "Almost every rider knows someone who has ended up in a wheelchair because of spinal cord damage and so far the response from riders and equestrian organisations has been fantastic, especially the Injured Jockeys Fund who have given us a grant of £750,000".
Riders are free to do whatever they like doing most on their horses as long as it raises a few pounds. A race day, clear round jumping, sponsored rides, stable open days and photo competitions are just a few ideas contained in a SADDLE UP event pack. It also has free posters, flyers and lots of tips on how to make an event fun, safe and successful.
"This issue is so important for riders. And Spinal Researchs work is vital for future generations of riders". Said Ginny Elliot. "Im glad to be part of it".