Take part to see how GRDA can help you!
Sessions last 30 minutes and there are no sessions on Fridays or at the weekends. The maximum size of each session is 5 participants.
We have sessions in the morning from Monday to Thursday and in the evening on Mondays and Thursdays. The sessions have between two or three rides per day, with each ride lasting 30 mins and usually have 4 participants. The rides are led by one of our fully trained RDA coaches, assisted by one of our experienced ride coordinators.
We have 6 coaches who are specifically RDA trained and qualified to coach at Gordon RDA.
The high standard of training is provided by RDA and is based on a system of assessment and progression. Our coaches are assessed regularly, and the training is reviewed and updated regularly.
Our coaches lead the whole session and design, plan and deliver the session and do the paperwork for the ride. They are responsible for everything in the session - the participants, volunteers and ponies.
They assess the participants initially and work with the coordinators to train the volunteers, match the participants to the ponies. Our coaches are responsible for making sure that the participants get the most therapeutic benefits from the session and track the progress of participants towards their desired goals so that the sessions can be adjusted if needed.
Our coaches also make sure that the workload of the horses and ponies is appropriate, and that all health and safety measures and first aid provision are in place and followed. Our coaches aim to make sure everyone has the best session possible.
Each session has at least one coordinator who works with the coach.
Our coordinators are responsible for making sure there are the right number of volunteers available for the session and organising the volunteer team.
Importantly, our coordinators act as the point of contact for participants by liaising with the participants or schools attending the session and making sure the ponies are ready.
Working with the session coach, our coordinators help to match the suitability of ponies to riders, and carry out health and safety checks on the ponies and riders.
Our ponies at Gordon Group RDA are mainly owned by us but a few are on long term loan. They are all very carefully selected so they are suited for the job as therapy ponies. They range in size from 12.2hh to 15hh and are aged from 18 years up to 24 years old.
Please note the maximum weight they can comfortably carry is 12 stones / 76.2 kg
Our participants come from all across Aberdeenshire and come either through their school or privately.
Children and adults of all ages and abilities who have a range of different physical, intellectual and mental health difficulties and challenges come to GRDA.
Many of the participants have serious difficulties in achieving the physical and intellectual challenges of normal daily life due to a range of conditions. These can include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, stroke, arthritis and disorders of the muscle or skeleton, learning disabilities such as autism and Down’s syndrome, together with a wide range of developmental and mental disorders.
We aim to accept all participants where possible, so offer both mounted and unmounted activities to help everyone gain the benefits of being with horses.
Our sessions are led by coaches who are specifically qualified to provide equine therapy. The sessions can be ridden or non-ridden and each session is carefully planned and designed by the coach to ensure that all participants get therapeutic benefits.
The sessions are made up of a range of activities and games which build up the participants’ confidence, physical strength, balance, communications and other skills. Sitting upright on a horse and balancing your body as the horse moves makes a lot of the riders muscles work so strengthens them a bit like a physiotherapy session.
Riding and generally being with a horse in non-ridden activities has a lot of mental health and intellectual benefits such as developing self-confidence, relaxation and reducing anxiety as well as helping with communication and social interactions and relationship forming. It’s also great fun!
The enjoyment and benefits from these activities is evident in the faces of the participants and is clear to their families and caregivers.
The ridden activities usually happen in the indoor school, but when the weather is good, sessions are held outdoors to allow the participants to experience the benefits of being with horses in different environments.
The non-ridden activities involve learning about the care and welfare of horses and ponies, stable management and the use and care of the ponies’ tack. We are also about to introduce some new non-ridden activities including Equine Facilitated Learning in which the participant interacts with and learns from the horse.
In 2022 we are developing a new Sensory Trail and will be introducing the opportunity for people to have Tea with a Pony or Picnic with a Pony.
Gordon RDA aims to provide the opportunity for individuals with physical and/or intellectual disabilities or challenges to gain all the benefits from equine therapy, to have fun and achieve their goals.
The benefits of equine therapy are well known. Participants have been shown to achieve the benefits shown opposite.
If you would like to volunteer, participate or get involved with the RDA please do not hesitate to get in touch.