Cobbes Meadow Riding for the Disabled Group near Canterbury in Kent has won the much-coveted, tailor-made Jubilee Saddle that is offered each year by the Worshipful Company of Saddlers for the RDA nationally.
The saddle will be made for Ralph, who is particularly ‘wide-girthed’ and has recently joined the Group from France.
The Saddlers instigated the annual and very generous gift during the RDA’s Silver Jubilee in 1994 and committed to providing 18 tailor-made saddles – one each year to cover a saddle for each region.
When the commitment had been fulfilled in 2012, they offered to continue their sponsorship indefinitely. This has allowed a different region each year to have the good fortune of selecting the right RDA horse or pony who would benefit most from such a precious gift. Nominations are made and votes taken.
Ralph, a handsome French Breton heavy horse, arrived at Cobbes Meadow last summer and has proved to be a great hit with the RDA riders. He is a gentle giant and despite huge hooves, he is very careful to keep them away from vulnerable toes. He is wonderfully suited to the heavier RDA riders and is already a “really valuable member of the Cobbes Meadow team”.
Carole Mounce, RDA’s Kent County Chair said “As we all know each and every RDA horse is very special so the Cobbes Meadow Group were delighted to win the chance to have a beautiful bespoke saddle made for a wonderful horse who needs a very specific type of tack.
“This comes when all RDA groups are doing their very best to keep things running as smoothly as possible at a difficult time. Each group is a charity so they rely totally on fundraising to keep their horses fed, watered, happy and healthy. This wonderful gift will allow Ralph and his riders to have many hours of fun and exercise in comfort”.
There are 35 RDA groups across Surrey, Sussex and Kent with more than 2,000 riders of all ages. They 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. Instructors work closely with physiotherapists and other health professionals to encourage every individual to aim for attainable goals – some modest, others far more ambitious.