Members of Warwick Rotary Club have paid a visit to the new Riding for the Disabled (RDA) Head Office and Training Centre in Shrewley, where they were given a talk and a tour of the facilities.
RDA UK is now based at Lowlands Farm, a site formerly owned by Ro Pudden MBE who established the original Lowlands Equestrian riding stables and has been involved with RDA since the 1970’s. Ro was Trainer for the first paralympic dressage team to compete in Atlanta in 1996.
RDA moved to Lowlands in 2019 shortly before the pandemic hit, occupying a new purpose built building, as well as the stables, indoor arena and outside training area. They welcome coaches and volunteers from across the nationwide organisation to learn new skills and share best practise. The yard is also home to three local RDA groups who use the horses and equestrian facilities on a regular basis. There is every support for riders to reach their potential here, as well as have fun and friendship with the horses.
There are 413 individual RDA groups around the country, run by over 13,000 volunteers who work with around 17,000 disabled children and adults. RDA participants find riding, carriage driving and being with horses provides a host of therapeutic benefits – from improving physical strength and co-ordination to helping with mental well-being. RDA UK staff provide support and services to all these groups, including specialist coach training, charity governance advice, disability advice and training, as well as competitions.
The RDA has just held their National Championship at Hartpury College near Gloucester which welcomed nearly 200 horses, 360 participants and over 800 entries in a range of disciplines from dressage to show jumping, vaulting and carriage riding.
Warwick Rotary recently made a donation of £1,000 to RDA from a legacy left them by the estate of founder member Paul Reynolds, who used to farm locally, and his wife Janet who was a volunteer at Lowlands RDA. Members of the club also helped RDA install a mechanical horse , called Charley, about 10 years ago. Charley enables new riders to be assessed and overcome their fears before getting into the saddle.
Lisa Davies, Head of Communications, told Rotarians that all the RDA groups had been impacted by Covid, with volunteer and participant numbers reduced. There is a growing demand for RDA services which can build “core strength” and balance and provides a sense of freedom for disabled people. RDA continues to transform the lives of people across the UK and seeks to enrich the lives of disabled people though horses.
If you feel that you can help out, either by volunteering or donating, please get in touch with RDA. You can find your local centre, or make a donation, at www.rda.org.uk