East Devon riding charity’s pony hope to boost disabled

A CHARITY that helps local disabled people through riding therapy hopes to raise its profile in order to obtain a new pony that will benefit even more users.

East Devon Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) leaders say it is difficult to raise funds in the region because the cause is often confused with the Donkey Sanctuary – a completely separate organisation.

The group has a waiting list of disabled children and adults, who would benefit from riding sessions, and is actively looking for a solution to the problem.

One exciting project is to obtain a suitable, quiet, pony around 14.2hh and aged between seven and 10 years, to buy or loan so opportunities can be offered to more riders.

Volunteers from Sidmouth and towns like Honiton and Axminster help with the RDA group, which holds twice-weekly horse and pony riding sessions with qualified instructors at the Hitts Barton Equestrian Centre in Whimple.

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Trustee David Brown, a retired vet who lives in Connaught Road, Sidmouth, said: “It’s a tremendous boost for a disabled person to get up on a pony. When I came to live in Sidmouth I found out about them and started helping. It’s a sad thing people don’t know more about us.

“There are many therapeutic benefits from riding. It strengthens the spine and legs and develops overall muscle tone. Children with communication difficulties can also develop a remarkable bond with their horses.”

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The RDA group works with all levels of ability, believing everyone should have the chance of reaching their goals.

Nationally, the RDA, including its East Devon branch, has been chosen from dozens of applications as one of the charities supported by a national newspaper.

The RDA has been providing a unique blend of physical and emotional therapy for disabled children and adults for 40 years. The emphasis at RDA is on achievement, fun and therapy, with many riders referred by their doctor or physiotherapist.

Anyone who wants to help with the group, has a suitable pony to sell or loan, or would like to sponsor a rider or pony can contact the charity on 08452 41437.

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