Bobby saddles up as top horserider

Bobby McAlister with some of his many rosettes.


A BANGOR man is leading the horse riding field on learning disability week.

Bobby McAlister’s journey in the world of competitive horse riding is a testament to his determination and resilience, which inspires learning disability communities and beyond.

What began as a recreational activity for Bobby has blossomed into a passionate pursuit that has provided him with numerous accolades, equestrian medals and rosettes across various disciplines of horse riding.

Bobby started horse riding 12 years ago. “I love attending the riding centre it is really fun, and I enjoy show jumping so much,” he said.

“I have 60 rosettes and 16 trophies from other competitions and I’m hoping to bring home even more.

Next week, Bobby will take part in a horse riding competition in Birmingham where he hopes to add even more rosettes and trophies to his already bulging cabinet.

Bobby has not only excelled in competitive horse riding, but has also found unique therapeutic benefits in his vocation. His dedication and love for horses have helped him to achieve excellence in the sport, becoming a role model for others facing similar challenges.

Bobby is a resident at Bangor Supported Living, where he has lived for over 15 years supported by a community that values and encourages his love of horse riding.

Beyond horse riding, Bobby is also a passionate pool player, competing in local, regional and even international competitions. His competitive spirit and skill have earned him recognition and respect in the pool community.

Most recently, Bobby was honoured at the Masquerade formal in Bangor where he was crowned Prom King, reflecting his popularity and positive impact among his peers.

Riding Instructor, Caroline Twemlon at the Newtownards Riding for the Disabled Association has been training Bobby for the last 12 years. 

“He has been so good progressing through the horse riding grades,” she said. “He is one of the best that we have in Northern Ireland. He loves coming along to the centre.

“He is very enthusiastic and loves being with the horses, talking to the horses and caring for the horses. I am so proud of what he has achieved.”

Adult support worker Freda Sloan explained the benefits that horse riding brings Bobby.

“Every week Bobby progresses more and more,” she said. “ He just adores horse riding, meeting and socialising with everyone at the riding centre.

“He loves the run-up to the competitions.  We know Bobby will be brilliant and we wish him the best of luck.”