Mums heartbreak as daughters riding lesson cancelled because shes autistic

A mum has been left "heartbroken" after reportedly being told her teenage daughter's autism was "too bad" for a horse riding lesson.

Sychdyn Riding School in Flintshire turned away 14-year-old Maddie as staff needed to "consider everyone's safety".

Mum Cassie Lee's booking for her daughter fell through when Maddie's dad Danny Brockley explained over the phone that she might get excited when she sees the horses.

Cassie told North Wales Live that the alleged incident is a painful reminder that people with disabilities are "still not treated equally".

She said: "They kept asking 'how bad is it? How bad is her autism?'. But it's not bad, autism isn't something bad it's just different. I just want my little girl to be able to do what she enjoys."

A spokesperson for the school rejected claims that they discriminated against Maddie's condition and told North Wales Live that they were only following protocol.

They added: "We have to consider everyone's safety, there's protocol we have to follow, and if people have different needs we have to factor that in, we don't want to put anyone at risk.

"We've never come up against this in all the years. We're not discriminating, we're just sticking to within the law."

Cassie said: "I'm heartbroken, if I'm honest. I'm hurt because I've had to watch my little girl upset because she couldn't go, just because she's autistic.

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"People these days say people with autism are accepted but we face struggles every day and no one sees that side of things.

"It's really upsetting that people just write her off because everyone who knows Maddie loves her and knows how great she is, people on the street say 'hiya' to her before me because she's so popular."

Maddie's autism means she communicates and expresses her emotions differently to others, but Cassie said this shouldn't stop her from doing things other children get to do. It was during a phone call that Cassie claimed Maddie was discriminated against.

She said staff at the riding school were initially happy to take the booking when Maddie's dad Danny called them on Wednesday March 23, but things changed, she claimed, when they became aware of Maddie's needs.

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Cassie said: "Maddie's dad called up first and spoke to someone and it was all fine but when he mentioned she had autism they said they couldn't do it.

"They said it should be no problem until he explained that Maddie has autism and she might get excited when she sees the horses, and then they said she couldn't come.

"Maddie stims which means she flaps her arms and makes noises when she gets excited but that's just how she reacts and she shouldn't be treated differently to anyone else."

Cassie added: "I wouldn't put her on a horse if it wasn't safe, we tried to explain to them that she would be fine. She's been horse riding in Sychdyn before and there were no problems.

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A spokesperson said: "We're just trying to stick within the rules that have been given to us, and there are places available which are specifically set up for people with different needs."

Fazilet Hadi, head of policy at leading equality charity DR UK claimed the riding school's actions: "Laws have been in place for over 25 years to allow disabled people to take part in mainstream activities with non-disabled people.

"All the riding school needed to do was to adopt a can-do attitude and let her ride the horse," she said.

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