When Take up the Reins - a national initiative to get the country horse riding - arrived at the Royal Norfolk Show with Queenie the mechanical horse, 12-year-old Hanna Free, from Attleborough, near Norwich, was one of nearly 300 visitors of all ages who climbed into the saddle.
Hanna, who has ridden several times in the past few years, was typical of many people who came along to meet Queenie. Some had never even sat on a horse before, but many more were lapsed riders who, after sampling a gentle canter on this realistic simulator, expressed an interest in getting back into the sport.
Take up the Reins is being run by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) on behalf of the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) as part of the Olympic Legacy.
"There is a real myth that horse riding is only for the rich and privileged, but that's simply not true," said Claire Williams, executive director of BETA. "Take up the Reins is a great way to show that anyone can do it - it's great fun, healthy, something you could enjoy with family and friends, and you're never too old.
"We were delighted with the response from our outing to Norfolk. Visitors to the show were really interested in the scheme and responded with great enthusiasm."
To cope with the fantastic response, staff from three local riding schools - Eden Meadows Riding Centre, in Attleborough, Woodlands Park Equestrian Centre, outside Norwich, and Blackborough End Equestrian Centre, near King's Lynn - came along to help the BETA team.
Hanna and the rest of the riders were each presented with a certificate, goody bag and rosette to mark the occasion.
Note to Editors:
Take up the Reins is a national initiative launched by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) on behalf of the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), funded by Sport England as part of the Olympic Legacy.
The scheme includes a team of mechanical horses, RoboCob, Trigger and Queenie, which has embarked on a nationwide tour of events and shopping centres, high-street department stores, holiday parks, universities and colleges to promote equestrian sport and encourage people to take up horse riding as a healthy, new hobby.
The British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) encourages professionalism among its membership of leading UK manufacturers, distributors and retailers. It fights for consumer rights, lobbies at government level, liaises with equestrian bodies and works tirelessly for rider safety.
It created and administers the BETA body protector standard, introduced the BETA UFAS NOPS code to help cut the risk of naturally occurring contaminants in horse feed and offers a wide range of training courses for retailers. Always look out for the BETA sign when shopping because this is an assurance of reliable advice and quality service.
BETA was instrumental in introducing the hugely successful National Riding Festival in the late 1990s, which was aimed primarily at schoolchildren.
The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) is the recognised governing body of horse sports in the UK. It represents and works to promote the interests of lasix and furosemide 4.2 million riders and carriage drivers in Britain.
For further information, log on to www.beta-uk.org
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Contact: Deborah Hayward, BETA Press Officer
Telephone: 01937 582111/01765 635314