Chalkdown Riding for the Disabled Group in Staplehurst, Kent, has introduced a regular hack to their local nursing care home to visit the Abbotsleigh residents who enjoy meeting the riders and horses, to its weekly activities.
“The ride is about half a mile down a leafy country lane and along a long private driveway up to the home,” said Pauline Roestenburg, the group’s chairperson.
“At first the residents used to wave from the window each week when they saw us coming. Now we have an arrangement where I call ahead to say the horses and riders are on their way so that some of the residents can come outside to stroke the horses and say ‘hello’, ” she added.
Having witnessed the simple pleasure and joy that the horses can bring on their weekly visits, the group is planning to expand these activities. Some recent sponsorship will now allow it to take a couple of the horses to other suitable nursing homes in the region over the summer next year.
RDA in the South East has 35 groups across Surrey, Sussex and Kent with more than 2,000 riders of all ages. They are able to enjoy the experience of riding, carriage driving, show jumping, dressage endurance and western style, with opportunities to learn a new skill, enter competitions or even take a holiday.
This can bring a new dimension to necessarily restricted lives, encourage independence and does much to improve a wide range of medical conditions.
RDA has the commitment of more than 1,000 volunteers who regularly and cheerfully give up their free time. Its instructors work closely with physiotherapists and other health professionals to encourage every individual to aim for attainable goals – some modest, others far more ambitious.