The Glasgow Group of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA Glasgow)
RDA Glasgow was established in 1967. Operating out of a purpose-built facility in Summerston, the charity provides equine therapy to disabled individuals across the Greater Glasgow area. The organisation caters for riders of all ages with all types of disability. RDA believe passionately that riding can be an enriching experience for all, offering the opportunity to connect with animals, enjoy the outdoors and achieve personal goals. At present, the charity provides 36 hours of riding and carriage driving sessions per week and rely on the help of over 100 volunteers to deliver their services to the local community.
Funding from the Essentia Foundation is currently helping RDA to roll out their ‘Quiet Corner’ initiative. This pilot project has been informed by the struggles that the disabled community encountered during the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020. According to a national RDA report on the health and well-being of riders, over 75% of respondents said that they felt the pandemic had a negative effect on both their mental and physical well-being. Club participants also reported feeling isolated and missed the connection between themselves, the horses, volunteers and staff.
Launching at the start of 2021, the ‘Quiet Corner’ project offers disabled children the chance to learn horse care skills over a period of ten weeks. Pupils from a range of local schools are taking part in the initiative which is being delivered by a pool of volunteer coaches. Each session includes interactive demonstrations on a variety of topics such as tacking, grooming, bedding and feeding. Participants are encouraged to spend time with the horses and feel safe in their company, free from judgement. These exercises are helping to improve the confidence of the young people taking part as well as building their communication skills. The physical nature of tacking and grooming is also providing good exercise after a sedentary year spent mainly indoors.
Since it’s launch the ‘Quiet Corner’ project has gone from strength to strength. With the help of the Essentia Foundation the pilot has now welcomed 14 young people who have all gained important practical knowledge which will deepen their bond with the horses and RDA staff. Local interest in the project has also grown and RDA will shortly be welcoming a new primary school, opening this important programme to more children in the community.
“We made the sessions as “hands on” as possible (subject to Covid restrictions) and used a horse each week to demonstrate the topic. The pupils enjoyed getting to know the horses, petting, and grooming them, tacking and untacking and leading from the ground. The pupils all participated very well in the sessions and seemed to enjoy them. All pupils completed RDA Horse Care Grade certificates and two pupils achieved Grade 1 and 2 achieved Grade 2, all passing with full marks.”
“One participant told us she liked coming to the stables because she, “likes animals, can form bonds with the horses and enjoys all the different sensory aspects”.