Our founder & CEO, Rachel Medill, on Ride High
I got my first pony when I was 9, but it was at the age of 14 that the first equine love of my life appeared in the form of Miskish a white pony with flecks of black and brown.
I simply adored Miskish without reservation, I talked about him, I was homesick for him when I was away weekly boarding, I drew him, I kissed him endlessly on the nose (to my mother’s horror – she had visions of me losing half my face as he snapped at a fly). I knew that he would never hurt me however and as well as all that he was thrilling to ride. He was so brilliant jumping cross country jumps that we flew round all the courses never picking up a single penalty.
It was Miskish that I turned to when my mother was very seriously, possibly terminally, ill – when she went away to America for treatment. We had no idea when she would be back. “I’m hoping to be home for Christmas but that may not be possible”, she said as she left on 5th December. I was all too aware that she might not come back to us at all . I would come back from school sit on his back in the stable and cry into his mane.
Many years later I would find a letter written by my father to my mother at this time which said, “Rachel disappears to the stables but I have to urge her to actually ride – she prefers just to sit with Miskish in the stable”.
I’m sure that this was a key experience that led to setting up Ride High 30 years later, in 2008.
I set up Ride High with the idea that we could change children’s lives for the better using horses. From the very start there were a few principles that I felt very strongly about:
- that we should help children on the margins for whom, often, there is no other help available, children who are struggling with daily life and in many cases are desperately sad
- that Ride High should be a place of consistency, of safety, of support, of friendship and of fun
- that we should offer a range of activities beyond riding horses to help these children make changes to their skills, confidence and prospects.
- that for many we should offer a long term programme so that the benefits are sustained and can, in many cases, last a lifetime
Five years on these principles underpin everything we do. We have operated during a time of increasing economic difficulty and have managed to keep increasing the number of children we help thanks to our grant funders, our corporate supporters and the many individuals who give not only money but their time.
The strength of Ride High lies in two things.
- Firstly, it is in the breadth of the work we do. To see children doing team photography and craft projects, going on trips, writing thank you letters, participating in riding displays, making presentations about Ride High and, above all, making friends is to watch them building their self confidence and ability to cope with life more robustly.
- Secondly, it is in the skill, passion and dedication of the staff and volunteers who work with us to make a difference, whether that be face to face with the children or helping with fundraising or in our office.
At Ride High we all love what we do – it is an extraordinary privilege to work with young people who gradually discover they have so much they want to do in life.”
Ride High has gained the following awards:
- Sunday Times Change Makers Top Ten Finalist 2014
- The Guardian Shortlisted for Charity Awards 2014
- Best Company supporting the local Community
Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce
- Great and Valuable Services to the Community
High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire Awards
- Best Community / Arts / Sports Programme
Pride of Milton Keynes Awards