AN EQUESTRIAN centre landed a prestigious award for its work in ensuring disabled people have the opportunity to ride horses.

Hall Place Equestrian Centre in Reading was awarded Accessibility Mark by Riding for the Disabled in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation.

The award scheme encourages disabled people into riding and its therapeutic benefits.

Riders with special behavioural and physical needs have been riding at the centre for more than 35 years.

They include Katherine Cooksley, an international dressage rider who had her middle fingers amputated when she was struck down with pneumococcal meningitis with septicaemia.

She said: "‘When I was 21 months old I got Pneumococcal Meningitis with Septicaemia, which caused a hemiplegia resulting in significant left sided weakness. In addition, I had to have amputations to my middle three fingers on both hands and have impaired hearing and loss of binocular vision.

"I started riding at the age of four as a form of therapy, because I was very weak through my left side and needed to build strength in my body. I rode at a private stables and was mostly towed around the countryside on the end of a lead rein.

"After about two years I decided I wanted more of a challenge, so I moved to a local riding school, Hall Place, where I was able to ride in group lessons off the lead rein, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Over the next couple of years I managed to move up groups and discovered jumping.

"I learned to love horses during this period and it became clear they were going to be part of my future."

To find out more about Hall Place call 0118 9426938 or visit