We’ve had a tremendous start to the new term, with over 120 of our existing volunteers receiving our brand new training programme.   Our Volunteers are the life blood of our operations, so when they asked for more training we were very happy to oblige.   Heather and Debbie together with new Trustee Jules Gregory worked on developing a training programme that looked at horse behaviour, tacking up, leading ponies, mounting riders and really importantly how to support our riders whilst side walking and leading our ponies.

The training has gone down really well with everyone saying they had learnt something new,  even those who have been volunteering with us for many years and who are very experienced said they had really enjoyed brushing up on their skill set.   Now compulsory for all volunteers, we want to be leading the way to ensure that everyone is up to date with best practice and helps to ensure the health and safety of our riders and ponies.     Plans are currently underway to expand the training programme.

We also would like to extend a huge thank you to Eileen O’Mahoney and Sue Moran  for their support in making sure all our volunteers were fully trained before our riders started back for their first ride of the term.

With over 220 riders each week, and just 4 members of staff, it’s easy to see why volunteers are so important and how much we all rely on their support.   We operate a core lesson plan during the school term, and have started to offer more activities during the half term and holiday breaks, however, there are children missing out who are not able to attend during school hours, which is why we started the After School Club last year with some funding from BBC Children in Need.  So many children can really benefit, but we need volunteers who are willing to come and help out and ensure children like Thea can get access to riding.  Thea’s Mum explains

My little girl who is coming up 8, has a diagnosis of Down Syndrome. And used to come here when she was at the Battledown Centre for Children and Families and she loved it then. And she loves it now!  She has now been coming up on a Tuesday evening to ride in the session Happy Hoof since it started.

I was so grateful that they had started this session a long with letting Thea  join. It has been like a life line to both of us really. Thea loves the pony she rides, and the sensory side of stroking him, brushing him, riding and trotting on him, her confidence is getting a lot better and her core strength is improving along with her seat.

She does nothing but talk about ‘Denver’ and going ‘horsey riding’ and if she could, I am sure she would go every day. The exercise does her good too, plus in a safe environment and one that I don’t have to worry so much as all the team are so professional, kind, patient and caring and Thea trusts them. That is a big issue for me, trusting someone else with my little girl. Thea has also made friends with two lads there who are older then her and tower above her, but they all get in so well. 

I can’t praise the team there enough really, and of course the ponies. They are so wonderful and beautifully cared for.  Of course for me, its a chance to meet up with some lovely people along with other parents who have children with additional needs. I can have a chat and know my child is safe and having a damn great time. Even her speech is starting to come in a bit.  I just know that the RDA is an amazing place, filled with wonderful people and ponies. Both of which I would call angels. A little life line to Thea and myself.

Our volunteers come from all walks of life, and we also work with some local companies who offer their staff flexi-time working for their “making a difference day” – enabling them to finish work a little earlier and volunteer with us from 4pm to 6pm.  If you would like to volunteer and your company offers a making a difference programme then why not have a chat with your Manager.

If you think you can help or you have family or friends who might be able to help, we can offer a range of different days and times to suit.

Monday to Friday

  • 8am to 10 am – catching our ponies
  • 10 am to 12 riding lessons and/or 1pm to 3.30pm riding lessons

Monday, Tuesday and Thursday After School Club

  • Monday 3pm to 5.30pm
  • Tuesday 4 to 6.30 and
  • Thursday 4 to 7pm


  • Sunday morning  8am to 1pm

It doesn’t matter whether you are used to horses or not, we will provide full training.  So please, if you have some spare time then why not complete our volunteer application form  and then call us to come and see us.

Click here to download a volunteer form Volunteer Application and Reference 2017