THE RIDING for the Disabled Association (RDA) is appealing for support to help raise the spirits of its disabled participants this Christmas.
The RDA National Training Centre, in Shrewley near Warwick, is home to 13 specially-trained horses who help to deliver therapy through riding to more than 100 local disabled people who travel from all over Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Birmingham to ride at the centre.
This year has been a difficult year for the RDA charity and its participants – with many unable to attend their weekly sessions and benefit from the many advantages of spending time with horses.
The positive impact of these sessions include significant improvements in physical and mental well-being, verbal and non-verbal communication, relationship building and confidence.
In order to continue providing this vital support to local disabled people, the RDA National Training Centre is raising money to cover essential costs of caring for the horses, such as Ocean, at the centre.
Centre manager Beth Randles explained: “Ocean has not been with RDA for very long, having joined the team in the summer, however the impact she has made is already substantial.
“She is playing a vital role in getting disabled riders back in the saddle after an extended period of having to isolate at home.
“Zia Clayton, who has Cerebral Palsy and Lupus, has been riding with RDA for ten years as a form of therapy to ensure she stays mobile and supple.”
Zia said: “I was absolutely over the moon to start back in October. My friend Helen and I were buzzing. I can’t tell you how happy we both were being back in the saddle after eight months of being unable to ride due to Covid restrictions at the Centre!
“Ocean is so lovely and patient. It took me a while to get back on and she waited calmly for me to mount. The horses here are absolutely fabulous.
“I live alone so it has been very lonely without my weekly sessions. I ride at the centre for the physical therapy but this year I have needed these sessions so much more for my mental health too.
“The second lockdown was especially difficult as we had only just started riding again. I just hope we can raise enough money to help cover the costs of caring for the horses so we can keep coming and the centre can go back to focusing on delivering these essential sessions.”
With the centre having been closed for extended periods of time due to Covid-19, income has dropped dramatically.
However, there are still many costs associated with caring for the horses including buying feed, hay and bedding as well as all routine health care costs from vets and farriers.
Beth continued: “Each month our horses cost around £3,000 to keep. With sessions disrupted again in November, we are entering winter on the back foot having lost another month’s income at a time when costs are going up.
“In winter the fields are too wet and muddy for the horses to live out so we have additional costs of bedding and hay this time of year.
“Because of this we are asking for help this Christmas so we can continue to care for our horses and bring therapy and joy to our disabled riders.
“A Christmas gift of donating £5 could feed two horses for the day, £10 could provide a bag of shavings to make our horses beds this winter and £40 could pay for one of our horses to see the farrier.”
As well as providing life-changing activities for local disabled riders, the RDA National Training Centre is also the central hub of the national charity RDA from which it helps to support the training of its 18,000-strong volunteer workforce and provide a space for the local community to hire for functions and events as well as riding.
RDA can only carry out the life-changing activities thanks to the generosity of donors, the dedication of volunteers and the good nature of its fantastic horses. If you would like to help support the team this Christmas, visit the JustGiving page and make a donation at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/NTC-ChristmasAppeal2020.