RDA from a parent’s point of view

Since last writing, I am pleased to tell you that our young rider Kevin has returned from the dressage competition in Cornwall with a 2nd rosette! We were all thrilled for him, especially as it was his first competition, he had never ridden the pony before.
Kim Bailey, the mother of one of our young riders, has written the following piece so you can discover RDA from a parent’s point of view.
Jane Dowding, Group Secretary 0845 2415357

Phoebe is nine and has been part of Green Cottage RDA since she was four.
Whatever I write in the next few paragraphs couldn’t possibly get across the difference RDA has made to her.
Phoebe was diagnosed with autism when she was three, and epilepsy when she was five, although we knew that she had different needs much earlier.

She was non-verbal, which led to her being anxious and frustrated all the time.
We realized that although when around people she became agitated and worried, she was the complete opposite when around animals and recognized she had an innate love of horses.

Her portage worker saw how we could use this to help Phoebe learn and suggested trying Riding for the Disabled.
We registered Phoebe at Green Cottage and were lucky to have a place soon after.
I was not prepared for the huge impact those wonderful ponies and equally wonderful volunteers would have upon our lives.
Phoebe relaxed immediately. It was a joy to see her anxieties ease and for her to engage with the ponies and ‘the ladies,’ as she calls them (even though some are men).

She began to communicate as soon as she sat on a pony. Her anxieties disappeared and this allowed her to talk – amazing! It meant so much to know that for that half an hour a week, without any doubt, Phoebe was happy.
When things were really difficult for her, I used to hold on to the knowledge that on Thursday morning all would be well.
Today, she is a different girl: more verbal with a wish to be sociable, still facing daily challenges, but learning to deal with them. She is still mad about ponies and loves every bit of her RDA session: the riding, the stables, talking to the ponies and sometimes leading them.

Phoebe can follow instructions, is beginning to steer the pony independently and has learnt a rising trot. The ‘ladies’ go to so much effort to make the session the most beneficial and enjoyable to each individual child.
They give Phoebe over and above what they are required to do. They show her acceptance, understanding, care and love. They have taken us both under their wing and given us more than we can ever thank them enough for.
Phoebe’s mum xx