RDA volunteering - does anyone do it?


Nov 28, 2002
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Im looking to get back into horses and an NR member suggested helping out at the RDA , i think this would be a very fulfilling thing to do. Does anyone do it, how do you find it, how often do you do it and what is required of you?

Ive been on the website and theres a form to give your personal details if you are interested, what should I write in the message bit?


Kez xx


New Member
Aug 16, 2004
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hi kezzebelle. I help out at with the rda group where my pony is on livery.
The children have a variety of disabilities & the aim is to give them exercises on board which helps with co-ordination etc.
The great thing is to see the children grow in confidence, for many of them riding may be the one activity that enables freedom, independance & mobility.
Our group has about 7 riders. Most have 2 helpers. one to lead the pony, the other to walk ( maybe even run for the trotters! )
The helpers also groom & tack up the horses before the children arrive. some more able children do it themselves.
The rda organiser ensures that all helpers are competent & have a training day, usually once per year i think. You have to complete a tick sheet of practical tasks, very simple & easy.
We also have a gymkhana every summer with pony club type games, & a picnic after.
What you need is lots of enthusiasm & a sense of fun. It is a fantastic way to get back into horses & rally rewarding. I would say 'go for it'. rrx


Nov 28, 2002
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Thanks for the advice Rockyrobin, there is one in Glasgow where I live, i'll need to find out exactly where it is and how to get to it. Then I will apply :D

Kez xx


New Member
Aug 10, 2003
Cheshire, England
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As someone who is on the receiving end of RDA helpers as I carriage drive with an RDA group, there are many ways that our helpers help.

We have people who just make cups of tea and handround biscuits (they make the biscuits too - yum). We also have non-horsey people who cycle by the side of us to go to either our assistance or if the pony spooks at something one of them always has a leadrope. Then there are our co-drivers (Able-bodied Whips) who are able to drive and take over when necessary as they have another set of reins. These tend to be people that have been trained by the RDA to do that.

The riding RDA helpers are very similar people as some of them are not horsey or they feel that they are not confident so they do other things that help us. Or as rockyrobin says people that run or walk alongside. They also deal with any special equipment that needs to be added to the normal tack. Everyone gets special training on lifting and special needs requirements, although anyone that has specific medical needs always has a person accompany them from either their school/centre that knows them and how to deal with anything.

One thing I would say is that there are lots of different types of RDA riders/drivers, you would have to be willing to talk and help people with everything from severly mentally and physically handicapped people with speech or co-ordination problems or people with autism or other neurological conditions who say strange (sometimes rude) things or people like me who look and behave just like joe-normal until its time to get out of the carriage or dismount and find that their legs arent connected to their brain anymore. If you are not bothered by anything like that and can keep calm and composed and have a smile on your face and laugh with us and not at us, then you will be fine.

I would say that if you wanted to get back into horses, then its a brilliant way of doing it, all the horses that are chosen have to be nice friendly and calm. We do lots of different and fun activities, such as picnics and day trips which is brilliant which all the helpers get involved in. My RDA helpers have said that the best rewards they get is when someone achieves something, even the tiniest thing that they couldnt do before. For me it was being able to trot through cones at speed in the summer, they said that they could see the smile on my face from behind me! Driving is the absolute highlight of my week, and I couldnt get through some weeks without it thats how much it means. And for most RDA riders its the same. For some people its the only time they can be really mobile and for people in wheelchairs when they can be higher than everyone else (which actually means a lot when you spend your life looking at peoples middles).

Sorry to have a really lengthy post, but I felt that it was important to put the other side.

Have a great time - you would be really appreciated.


Silver! Hey-ho Tonto!!
Jul 30, 2004
Sheffield, UK
I also help out at an RDA group that is run within my riding school. I was 16/17 years old when I started but I'm not sure if there is an age limit...I think there is but then most people under my age wouldn't be able to help out anyway because its run on 1.30pm on a Thursday - they'd all be in school!

I absolutely love it...but have had many friends also come along and none of them have returned. I have grown up around disabled kids and adults and so aren't worried or phazed by them - after all they are just humans! But I found that all the friends that tried to help out couldn't manage it. Our group has only three riders (the Monday one is bigger) and they each need 3 helpers - a leader and two sidewalkers. One kid who has just joined has autism and other two are long-timers! But both are adults with severe mental/physical disabilities that a lot of people find hard to take in. I'm rambling....um...yeah I find it extremely rewarding and fulfilling and love it - even in the freezing cold!! Can't believe I've not been doing it all my life!! Yes you get training....and inspections from RDA leaders!! EEEK - nah its fine!



& Harry!
Dec 24, 2003
Home Sweet Home! (Bucks)
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I help out at my local RDA group & its great fun! Its a good way to get back into horses or just to get a bit more experience with horses - I have learnt so much in the 3 years I have been helping, not just about looking after the horses, but riding too just by leading in the lessons & paying attention to what the instructors saying! Its also a great way to meet new people & make lots of new friends!

To help at the RDA i think you have to be 12 years old & there is no upper age limit that im aware of.

Go for it Kezzabelle - you wont regret it!


New Member
Jul 19, 2004
I used to teach adults with learning difficulties who would come once a week for 2 hours at a time.
They were a pleasure to teach.
For them to touch and smell a horse seemed to brighten their day and their smiles at feeling so proud of themseves at being able to accomplish the simplest of tasks was more rewarding for me than them!!
Patience, confidence and a great big smile is all you need.

All the very best

From Tracy


Nov 28, 2002
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Well i looked at the map to see how far the centre is from my house - a bus and 2 train rides away :( :( Im gutted, didnt realise it was so far.
After reading all your posts I realise how rewarding this could be, i do have experience with disabled people also so this would be a great opportunity.
I could maybe arrange a lift to get there....fingers crossed, but my new years resolution is to pass my driving test. So i can still do it, just not a soon as id like to :rolleyes:

Thank you for all your replies

Kez xx


Active Member
Feb 12, 2004
I used to go to a riding school where me and my sister helped a brother and sister in their RDA class - I was 12 and my sister was about 8 - we were the youngest helpers by far and this was years ago so the rules have probably changed.

It was great. really fun - at that age I don't think we were bothered about it being rewarding just more time with 4 legged creatures ! Unfortunately I used to help the brother and he was a better rider so i used to have to do lots of running in the lessons !

Pink's lady


I've taught at an RDA centre for quite a good few years.

There is and age limit - of insurance purposes you need to be between 14 and 70 yrs to be allowed to lead or sidewalk.

However, out with this you can help care for the horses if you provide you're own insurance.

Every RDA centre is different - some teach intensly (various lessons everyday), other only have one or two session a week.

Some own lots of horses, others run entirly on borrowed ponies.

What ever the set up, all will be more than pleased to have you help, and all will be able to provide training (some admittidly better than others)

Have a look to see if there is anther one a little nearer you.
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