Equestrian Members Reach for the Stars

The Star Club Equestrian Program commenced its new membership year this week.

The program commenced in January 2018 when a gap was identified in the sport of Equestrian for those with an Intellectual Disability (including Down’s Syndrome, Global Development Delay, mild-severe intellectual disabilities) and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Incorporating riders with an Acquired Brain Injury, and Cognitive and Behavioural Impairments, “Star Club” is now one of the fastest growing equestrian programs in NSW providing opportunities to these riders.

“And it all started in a small home office in Singleton,” founder Sharon K Bassett told The Hunter River Times.

“With its Equestrian NSW Affiliation and EA Insurance (Marsh Australia), our Star Club is the only association of its type in NSW, and can boast it is also an Active Kids Provider, COVID Safe Registered Organisation, is NDIS Friendly and Stop Bullying in Equestrian Sports Pledged.”

Now in its third year the Not-For-Profit association is managed by a Committee of Volunteers and has four centres in Milbrodale (near Singleton), Scone, Tamworth and Mandalong with the centres (in combination) running 15-20 Star Clubs/month for 115 members.

Seven coaches, including Hunter locals Robyn Boyle, Sarah Purser and Robyn Johnson and Australian Showjumping Champion Gail Hunter, have come on board in recent weeks.

“With the growth of Star Club and, indeed, our centres it has shown that so many riders were missing out on the sport of equestrian due to limited opportunities for them to participate,” she continued.

“Not many people are aware Special Olympics do not have an equestrian program in NSW and Para-Equestrian as there is no classification/grade for our riders.

“Grassroot riders and those at a competitive level living with these types of disability essentially miss out.”

There are many more benefits to Star Club as well.

“The photos, no matter the (dis)ability, are enormous with Star Club receiving feedback and compliments weekly whether in terms of socialisation, communication, health and wellbeing, opportunities provided, life, riding and vocational skills, and behavioural improvements, the list goes on,” she added.

Broke resident Fermina McCardle’s daughter, Erin, has been attending Star Club, Milbrodale since its opening this year.

“Erin is gaining confidence and being more organised generally,” the proud mother added.

“She enjoys helping Sarah feed and rug the horses.”

Star Club Equestrian Program Inc has just started its new Membership Year so it is the perfect time to make an inquiry. Whether beginners or competitive riders, 5 or 95 years, you are welcome to join and, as their motto states “Reach for the Stars”.