A Rider’s View – By Nathan Santa
‘Horse riding is one of my favourite things and one of the best things about going to Hillside School.
I like riding as it feels warm being on the horse. I like getting outside on the horses too and also the game we play where we have to throw things in the bucket.
When I’m trotting it does feel fast, but I don’t think that I’m going to fall off as people are helping me to make sure that I’m safe.’
A Parent’s Story
Heledd Halls kindly agreed to be interviewed about her daughter Hope’s involvement with the South Downs group of the Riding for the Disabled Association.
Hope is one of our regular younger riders who is making great progress. This is what Heledd had to say:-
“My daughter , Hope, has an autistic spectrum disorder. She requires a lot of extra support but she does attend a mainstream school.
Hope has been riding since she was three and she is now seven, and it has always been a highlight of the week for her. We have seen her progress in terms of the way she communicates with the ponies, and this has aided her everyday communication skills as well as improving her balance, posture, and even her language.
I first heard about RDA at Waitrose! They were fundraising through the “green disc” scheme for the RDA, and they gave me a phone number. I contacted the group and Hope has been coming ever since. Hope talks about riding and ponies all the time and that is reflected in the books and toys she has at home.
She has never showed any fear of the animals. She took to riding like a duck to water. Today we had a breakthrough as she started doing a rising trot. She was very aware of the progress as she gave me the thumbs up. Hope has even obtained her grade one in riding and is now working towards her grade two, so there is an educational side to her visits here as well.”
PS from Rosemary one of the volunteers. Hope was one of the first riders I met when I started volunteering with the group 20 months ago, and it is great to see how much more confident she has become in her riding and general communication in that time.
A Volunteer’s Perspective By Lynne Mcgregor
Having returned to the UK in 2013 after living abroad, I was looking for an opportunity to do some voluntary work. I had a keen interest in horses, and used to ride regularly, so when I saw an advertisement in a local shop window seeking volunteers for the local Riding for the Disabled Group, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.
And I was right! We have a great time with the children who come each week from a special needs school for their horse-riding lesson, given expertly by trained instructors. A few mentally or physically impaired adults come along too and it is plain to see the happiness on the childrens’ and adults’ faces alike when they mount their horses for a 40 minute lesson.
What does a volunteer actually do? Well, it starts with grooming and tacking up each horse with another volunteer. We then lead the horse into the large indoor riding school and whilst the riders are being kitted out with the correct riding hat, we lead the horses round the school in order to loosen them up and get them used to their environment. Each child (or adult) is then helped onto their horse and two or three volunteers are assigned to each rider: one to lead the horse, and one (or two) others to walk (or run!) alongside the horse, giving encouragement and support as required to the rider. On fine days, we take the horses and riders out to the nearby woods to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. A great time is had by all!
Although I’ve grown up around horses, it’s certainly not necessary to have a horsy background as training is given. And not only do the riders get a lot of enjoyment from their horse-riding lessons, but the volunteers do too!