Staff from the UK headquarters of the Riding for Disabled Association paid a visit to the Hampton Court based Horse Rangers this week to study the successful training in place there for those with special needs.
Matthew Cobble, Volunteer Co-ordinator from the Warwickshire based organisation and Lottie Dronfield, their Co-ordinator for participants and projects, met up with one of the two squadrons specially designed for children who require additional support.
Matthew said "We've heard great things about the Horse Rangers Association and what they are doing in teaching horse care and stable work, so it's fantastic to see it in action"
The national RDA is currently developing a pathway for those who would like to become more involved in volunteering for the organisation.
Riders, supported by existing volunteers would be encouraged to get involved in different aspects of their RDA Group. Learning modules are being developed around fundraising, administration, leading horses and side-helping and also stable management.
The idea is that by developing other skills, in addition to riding, participants feel a greater sense of ownership and connection to the RDA. This programme would also serve to help develop transferable life skills within a familiar and supportive environment.
Horse Rangers is already a massive advocate of this approach. Their special needs squadrons are pioneering in that they combine teaching both riding and stable management to their own RDA members.
Lottie said “It was fantastic to see the riders getting stuck in mucking out and grooming the horses at Horse Rangers. The venue is such a breath of fresh air and lives up to its fantastic reputation"
Mathew and Lottie spent time talking with the Group Leaders and the Volunteers, as well as watching the session itself.
Their visit came in the week that the two RDA squadrons at Horse Rangers showed off their skills at their annual Open Day on Friday at The Stockyard in Bushy Park.
The other five squadrons get their chance to perform on Sunday June 29 at their Awards and Sports Dayfrom 1pm when the charity itself will also be presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in the presence of HRH Princess Michael of Kent.