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Riding for the disabled (RDA) Glasgow group

07 November 2014

Every year, Riding for the Disabled (RDA) Glasgow Group provides equine therapy to over four hundred children and adults with a wide range of disabilities.

There are lots of physical benefits of equine therapy. Balancing on a horse works thousands of muscles; a horse’s movement mimics a walking pattern in the muscles of the individual, which provides a highly effective form of physiotherapy. Wheelchair users have the rare chance to experience being in control and say riding is ‘much more fun’ than traditional physiotherapy.

Equine therapy can also be a vital support for those with emotional problems, learning disabilities and those on the autistic spectrum. RDA Glasgow Group currently provides therapy for riders with autism, Asperger’s, cerebral palsy, visual and/or hearing impairments.

Whilst riders are enjoying their lessons, mums, dads and other family members can relax at the tea bar where they can rest and share experiences with other carers and volunteers.

Erin, 18, is one of RDA’s champion riders. She has been coming along to RDA Glasgow Group since she was just 9 years old. Her mum Julie said, “Erin did not take to riding straightaway!  Erin is autistic, and her behaviour was very challenging and she screamed during her first few visits to the centre. However, with the patience of the staff and teachers, Erin started to settle and she began to enjoy her experiences on a pony. She began to display an incredible improvement in her moods, her behaviour and her sense of well-being. She became calmer and not just during and after the lessons but in the days leading up to them as well.”

Lisa MacDonald, RDA Glasgow Group said, “We are delighted to report that Erin has progressed to become one of our most accomplished riders, winning several trophies at the recent West and Central Scotland Regional Dressage Competition on Tara, before going on to win her class at the RDA Scottish Championships on Solo. She has also taken part in the Special Olympics." 

As well as benefitting from equine therapy itself, Erin discovered a natural affinity with horses and is now working at RDA Glasgow Group to gain experience. She has successfully completed SVQ level 1 in horse care and riding and is now studying to achieve level 2.

In 2013, RDA Glasgow Group was awarded £2000 via the Baillie Gifford Community Awards Fund towards the upkeep costs of Bella the horse for one year. At six years old, Bella is the ‘young lady of the yard’ and is used in classes for younger children. This grant helped keep her in good health and top condition.

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