December 24 - Hoof, the Olympic legacy project to the London 2012 Games, set up by the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), has outlined its plans for the next three years, to make horses more accessible to all Londoners.

Hoof was awarded £750,000 funding by Sport England this year for a three year campaign which will centre on a campaign to make riding in London more accessible to all regardless of social or financial status.

The plans include a schools riding programme to provide opportunities for children to experience the pleasures and benefits of riding for the first time, which will be led by the British Horse Society; a series of investments to provide new as well as improve existing facilities for riding in the city; and representing the view of the equestrian community within London to ensure that all the benefits of equestrian sport, being at the centre of the games in 2012, are maximised.

Andrew Finding, the chief executive of the BEF, said: "London will be home to the Olympic and Paralympic equestrian events in 2012, taking our sport right into the heart of London.

"Now is the time for us, in partnership with all our member organisations, to exploit the publicity that will follow, by encouraging more people to get involved and creating better facilities and opportunities for all to ride in London."

Hoof will support the Ebony Horse Club (with up to £200,000 of capital investment.

Ebony is a leading light in equestrian charity work in London, bringing life skills and personal achievement through horse riding and care, to some of the most disadvantaged children and young people growing up in deprived communities in Brixton's Coldharbour Ward.

The new facility, which requires significant fund-raising in addition to the Hoof investment, will enable the horse club to expand the number of children it can support from 40 to 160 children a week, enabling many more young people to enjoy the unique positive attributes that working with horses brings.

Rose Spearing, the development director of the Ebony Horse Club, said: "The BEF, through Hoof, is taking the lead in the horse world in reaching out in a major way to urban youth and in doing so, showcasing the unique contribution that horses can make to the lives of individuals and communities."

Finding said; "Hoof will also provide up to £200,000 of funding towards the construction of a landmark new facility in the London Borough of Greenwich.

"The centre, which is proposed at Shooters Hill, just a stone's throw from the Olympic equestrian venue, will provide a lasting sporting, community and educational legacy for the equestrian community in the city. This project will also be supported by significant local authority funding."

Chris Roberts, the Leader of Greenwich Council said: "We see the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games as a tremendous opportunity to inspire people to take up sports and are doing all we can to develop a new equestrian centre in Greenwich, as well as a host of other new sports facilities.

"A new equestrian centre will not only introduce thousands of London children to the thrill of horse riding, it will also provide educational and training opportunities for many people for years to come.

"Our plans are to provide a top quality training centre so that people can gain skills and qualifications in an area that will open up opportunities across the world.

"The Games aren't just a 17-day sports event for London - they are a chance to create new opportunities and inspire people and we have to start now so that the benefits can last for generations to come.

"Finally, as part of a wider campaign to drive demand for the sport, Hoof will continue to market the benefits of horse riding to Londoners, with the launch of Hoof it to Health - a new campaign to get people off the sofa, away from the computer and out into the open air to enjoy the exercise that horse riding can provide.

"Hoof will work with partners such as Riding for the Disabled to explore the many positive physical and mental benefits that can be derived from an involvement with horses."

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