Accessible Equine Rehabilitation Centre - A good day out
By Zoe Clifford November 2011
Penny Farm is a horse rehabilitation centre operated by the charity World Horse Welfare. The main activity of the charity is to rescue ill treated horses and ponies, rehabilitate them in one of our centres then look for new homes for them on our loan scheme.
They have a visitors centre which is open to the public Wednesday, Saturdays and Sundays. Visitors are offered guided tours by our volunteer guides to find out more about the charity and the horses in our care. There is also an information centre, coffee shop, paddock walks and picnic areas, most of which are accessible to wheelchairs.
For the wheelchair users there is full access to the visitors centre and main stable area which is all on one level. Furniture in the visitors centre is free standing and can be moved as required. There is a slight incline to field area however an alternate route is available. There is a small hill to reach the fields, however, if this can be negotiated the tracks around farm are suitable for wheelchairs. They are made up of road planings and grass and are approx 10ft wide.
For guests with a carer, they offer appropriate assistance. The disabled toilet can accommodate two people if necessary.
The farm aims to provide a top class service to all their visitors. They aim to approach each visitor as an individual and tailor their visit to meet their needs and ensure that they have a memorable and informative time.
They also actively encourage visits from visitors with special needs from schools, youth groups, hotels, care homes and, whilst the volunteers will be predominantly responsible for the guided tour of the facilities the yard staff will support this by bringing specific ponies from the stables to meet guests in the main yard. They recognise that touch is often more important to these visitors and they offer them a unique opportunity to interact on a one to one basis with our horses.
There is often a special link between some areas of disability and horses eg learning difficulties and autism and where interaction between a pony and a child can be facilitated, the rewards are amazing.
Penny Farm is committed to ensuring physical ease of access with designated parking, wide walkways and good housekeeping -a priority is to ensure that the stable area is kept clean and tidy at all times and that no trip hazards are left in the public areas.
Visitor who cannot walk far can see and touch horses in the area immediately outside the visitors centre only approx 25 yards away. The volunteers and the yard staff work together to meet the needs of the visitors – this can mean yard staff bringing horses to the stable doors to allow visitors to touch/interact with them or if necessary they can also bring ponies out of stables into the riding school area or the main yard to meet them for photographs etc.
This year World Horse Welfare Penny Farm were nominated for a 'Access for All' Tourism Award at the Lancashire & Blackpool Tourism Awards. They came second and received a Highly Commended Award, although it demonstrates their commitment to accessibility so their centre is certainly well worth a visit.
For details of our special events during school holidays please check our website. World Horse Welfare Penny Farm - Preston New Rd, Blackpool FY4 5JS
Charity no - 206658 and sc38384