HORSE-riding can have a positive effect on people with autism and, for a young man from Malvern, it has changed his life.

Cameron Branchett, 16, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2006, discovered that the rocking motion on the pelvis caused by riding a horse releases oxytocin, a chemical which can have a calming effect on people.

Since he started riding in 2011, Cameron has formed bonds with the horses he has ridden at Malvern Riding School.

His father Jonathan said: “After discovering that the rocking motion on the pelvis when riding a horse released oxytocin that can help calm people, Cameron tried his first riding lesson.

“The effect on him was immediate. Trying to cope in a main stream school, Cameron was showing symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome alongside his ASD. All of this stopped every time he sat on the horse.

“He was hooked and we were amazed that a half hour lesson could have such a profound effect on him. They say certain animals have an affinity with humans and this is certainly the case with every horse Cameron has ridden.

“He forms a genuine bond with them all and they seem to instinctively understand his needs.”

In partnership with the British Equestrian Federation, the RDA launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding. Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the RDA following training and assessment.