Inspirational riding school which has introduced thousands of inner-city children to riding and the joy of being around horses.

The bond between humans and horses has always been special. And Park Palace Ponies is an inspirational riding school that has introduced thousands of inner-city children to riding and the joy of being around horses. 

Since they opened in 2017, Park Palace Ponies has provided affordable access and given free taster sessions to more than 5,000 children in South Liverpool – an area of high social deprivation. The not-for-profit organisation has taught them the basics of horse riding, breaking down barriers and building confidence. 

As the children say themselves, the Park Palace Ponies are a massive, positive influence on their lives. One child, who recently took part in the scheme said: “If I can get on a pony and ride it, I can put my hand up in class.”

The riding school was originally founded by local teacher Bridget Griffin, 26, and her dad, Keith Hackett, 68, and three other directors Paul Hayward, Pauline Hayward and Michaela Walsh. They started offering riding lessons for novice seven to ten-year-olds in the Dingle area of Liverpool, taking over an old cinema to create a unique teaching space.

During the pandemic, the team took ponies on doorstep visits to cheer up locked down families and maintain contact between their horses and the wider community. 

They’ve offered summer holiday lessons and following a crowdfunding appeal they now plan to open a full-size, inner-city riding school, Walker’s Wood, to run alongside their current site. 

Bridget said: “We want every single child in Liverpool to have the opportunity to learn to ride. To many, having horses and ponies in the inner city is still a novelty. They are very much Dingle’s ponies.”

“We know how important and crucial it is for young people to spend time with equines and the huge positive impact it can have on their lives. Winning this award is a big deal for us – we just want to help our community but it’s so nice to feel that people appreciate what we do.”