Money for RDA for nothing – yes really!

This is quite unbelievable but true – you may have already heard of it – easyfundraising?

Headline is – with one extra click when you are buying on-line you can raise money for the RDA for absolute free. Difficult to believe? Here is a snapshot of my account….


Crystal Ski holidays just gave (looks like about) 1% to RDA just for us booking our holiday with them. It cost us nothing extra, it was booked on the identical Crystal booking page, and if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t have even noticed.

I so wished that I had started this up before I bought all my Christmas presents! But I was a little wary – as you might expect and you may be too. So I did some research, in my view this is a GREAT business model which in fact not only gets retailers more business but fulfils some aspects of their Corporate Responsibility. So in fact there are good reasons for this money to be “free” – they will get it back in other ways.

Meanwhile, our ponies get hay, our wonderful yard staff get more resources and who knows – maybe we can get the new indoor school in a different way!

In my next blog I will explain more about how it works but if you want to get going straight away – here is the link.

Amanda Graham



Let’s whisper to our lovely RDA ponies!

We did some extra learning with Angy this week, she having been at some instructor training herself. She talked us through some horse behaviour approaches, sometimes know as horse whispering. She explained that when horses are in a natural herd, the boss horse doesn’t lead from the front but from a position by the shoulder of a horse that he wants to keep in line.

horse-whisperingAnd the boss horse also insists on his personal, dominant space, so if another horse turns their head towards the boss, then the boss will nudge that horse in the area of his neck and withers to push him out of the bosses space.

So what does this mean for us at the RDA? Well we have a pony (who must not be named!) who is quite confident and does have a tendency to reach back and nibble when given half a chance. So the theory is this. The helper who is leading the pony starts behaving as the boss horse. They stand a little further back at the shoulder, needing a longer lead rein obviously, and if the pony’s head comes around, a gentle push out of the helper’s (boss’s) space corrects him. (This can be slightly tricky if the leader has a side walker behind as there is limited space but we worked it out and only tripped a little once!).

So we tried it out (as we do!) and with a leader and 2 side walkers – we worked superbly together – we thought we had about 70% noticeable change in behaviour, and no-one got nibbled by the pony who must not be named!

Sensational new learning and sense of achievement at the RDA as ever.

Pony for the Day – Six horses, Six riders…

…Eight Helpers, one fantastic Instructor – No parents/carers. What can possibly go wrong????? Answer – nothing!!

What an absolutely fantastic day!

I have never had so much fun…..the treasure hunt saw an amazing amount of enthusiasm, hands up everywhere, shouting, laughing with much running around whilst the horses were having lunch and looking on with some superior amusement and a certain look in their

That was nothing compared to Riding Games we had after a lovely lunch sitting on hay bales, in the hay barn. For me, I have never seen or heard such laughter in the trotting games…and there was such a lot of it!

In the aftermath it seems that the day just epitomised and underlines what the RDA means to all concerned… and more fun. It was such a good day.

Ian Crawford

Sitting up just that little bit straighter!

We all have our favourite ponies to ride or work with at RDA. It may be Cheeky Charlie who a lot of our young riders started to ride on, Mr Reliable Speckles or Candy who is a cowgirl-on-a-horsebit more forward going.  

So imagine if you aren’t a very confident rider and you are given a different pony to ride for a change. Tell the rider that they look really good on this new pony and how much it suits them.

Then watch as the rider suddenly starts to sit up straighter.

Lyndsey Trickett


Never assume that a rider does not understand what you are saying. Give them time – it takes some riders a little longer to process the information or instruction.  They may not be able to act on the instruction but it still doesn’t mean that they still-waiting-clipart-1haven’t heard and understood what is being said. Never talk about them as if they are not there!

Sue Taylor

Ready, Steady, GO!

Imagine you are an eight year old boy. An eight year old boy with a degenerative disease. Once, in your dim, distant past you could run and jump and skip as well as your friends. You could keep up when you played chase or ran to greet your parents. Now every time your friends run across the playground or to the park you can’t keep up you just can’t run as fast as them. Imagine Sports Day – everyone else has a chance of winning, but you know you will be last.

This eight year old boy gets the chance to come riding at RDA. He enjoys his first lesson – a nice gentle hack and arrives for the second lesson.

“I thought we’d do some races today” says the instructor, “Do you like races?”

The boy’s face falls, remembering all those times he can’t keep up with his friends far ahead of him.

“It’s different on horses” she says and he gamely agrees to give it a go.

Once mounted the boy learns how to steer his pony and remembers how to start and stop. The children line up for the first race.

“Ready, steady, GO!”

Helped by his leader and encouraged by his side-walker the boy and his pony walk up the line of cones, round the end cone and back.winner-png

“Well done, you won!”

Suddenly the boy realises – he can win, he is not left behind! What a great feeling! He and the other children compete for the other races: bending, ball in a bucket etc, everyone encouraged to do their best and everyone having fun.

At the end of the lesson another adult asks “how did you enjoy your lesson?”

The boy beams “I won two races!”

A life-changing moment.

A tip for handling grass hungry ponies!


Out on a ride, enjoying the countryside, and down goes your pony’s head for some luscious grass.  He is eating as if nothing was ever quite so delicious and you are trying desperately to pull his head off the ground.  Try gently pulling one rein and squeezing your legs – it’s much more effective than pulling on both reins, but do keep both the reins in each hand. Don’t forget to scold him for his bad manners and remember to ask for grass reins next time.

Sue Taylor

And in other news – funky toe protector trainers

Following on from Charlie B nearly but not quite stepping on my toe (bless him!)  — and the fact that my trainers with a firm protection on my toe had just worn out — and a conversation I had with Becky about her wearing her “proper” toe protector boots…

screen-shot-trainersI went onto Amazon and found these funky, great looking trainers! I wore them straight away for a 3 hour session and they were great (and believe me I am bad at breaking in shoes) so I would highly recommend them. Slightly pricey at £38 but better than a broken toe – and they come in all sorts of colours – woo hoo!

Amanda, Thursday Helper

A Superb Funday 2016

It really was a fun day. Very busy, organized chaos and running late but who cared? Everybody was enjoying themselves and even the horses behaved! The weather was very kind. We all worked as a team, especially the Thursday evening helpers.

There was no chance of sitting down for a break and Sue was dashing around seeing if anybody would like a tea or coffee and fetching it for them. Far too many golden moments to record, such as seeing all the children getting their rosettes, but one special superman-background-cute-superman-chibi-important-wallpapersone for me…

During the fancy dress parade, I was side walking with another Thursday helper supporting a super hero. He could not speak or sit up and was about five years old. I had never met him before, since I only do Thursdays. We were playing races and putting eggs, soft toys and cups in or on various implements. I just played with him and encouraged him to have fun. You could see him laughing by looking into his eyes and he let out squeals of delight.

Afterwards, I don’t remember if she was his mum, nan or carer, but whoever she was came up to me squeezed my hand and arm and thanked me profusely for helping to make the young lad enjoy himself… I just said that it is what I do.

It makes you feel good.