Family of wrens found in RDA stable

Good news to boost the spirits is always welcome, particularly given the current climate. So volunteers at Chalkdown Riding for the Disabled Group were surprised and thrilled to find a family of wrens nesting in an unexpected location recently.

Emma Ginger discovered the ‘self-isolating’ family in an old grazing muzzle that was hanging up in the entrance to the hay shed and snapped the fabulous photo as she was doing her usual daily yard duties looking after the ponies.

Members of Chalkdown RDA Group prepare for action: Photo and words by Joanna Sale

“It has been such a rewarding sight and gives us all a bit of hope in these unprecedented times.”

With the whole of the Riding for the Disabled operation shut down for Lockdown, it was a joyful boost to spirits when Eastbourne RDA discovered that they had a new addition to the Group on the way.

One of their lovely volunteers, Helen Waters, bought a cob mare called Coco last spring. “In the summer, we started to use her in our sessions and she was wonderful” says Sarah Groome from the Group. ”But by December, Helen began to have a suspicion that Coco was pregnant”.

At the end of January, her suspicions were confirmed by the vet and on March 21, right near the start of Lockdown, the adorable Arizona (Ari for short) was born!

Luckily, Helen keeps Coco and Ari at a friend’s yard and she arranged for Helen to ‘self-isolate’ in the groom’s accommodation so she could be close to the new arrival.

“I believe that this is Eastbourne’s first home-bred, RDA pony” said Sarah.

RDA ponies are very special as they have to look after their riders with a calm, well behaved manner. But Ari is already proving to be a great RDA mount in the making, having passed the ‘umbrella’ test with flying colours.

In the South East there are 35 groups across Surrey, Sussex and Kent with over 2,000 riders of all ages. They come 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. We have the commitment of more than 1,000 volunteers who regularly and cheerfully give up their free time. Our instructors work closely with physiotherapists and other health professionals to encourage every individual to aim for attainable goals – some modest, others far more ambitious.

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