FAQs about Riding for the Disabled Association & RDA Outcomes Tracker
What is RDA?
Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has been working with horses to provide people with disabilities opportunities for achievement and fun for over forty years.
The charity believes ‘It’s what you CAN do that counts’.
RDA has six aims:
- to provide opportunities for individuals to reach therapeutic goals,
- achieve personal ambitions,
- combat social isolation,
- develop life skills,
- experience the outdoors and
- connect with animals.
RDA relies on voluntary help, donations and legacies to deliver its services and is a charity registered in England and Wales (No: 244108) and Scotland (No: SCO39473)
How does RDA know that its riding sessions help people with disabilities?
Recent research into therapeutic outcomes at RDA shows some remarkable outcomes.
In just 12 weeks, outcomes for 181 school age riders include -
- 80% demonstrated physical improvement, greater confidence and more enjoyment.
- 75% showed a greater willingness and ability to communicate,
- 82% evidenced improved relationship building skills and
- 83% demonstrated clear advances in horsemanship.
Does riding with RDA contribute to the educational or personal development of young people?
Riding sessions for children and young people contain play elements designed to improve numeracy and literacy and complement the national curriculum. Children can undertake age and ability appropriate proficiency tests.
Schools have responded to the RDA Outcomes Tracker very warmly as it not only evidences the benefits of allowing children to ride in school hours but also reliably promotes demonstrable learning and personal development.
Young people over the age of 12 can train to be an RDA volunteer and from age 13 they become eligible to apply to do a Young Equestrian Leader Award (YELA).
What opportunities exist for rider progression at RDA?
Riding with RDA can take participants wherever they want to go; they can try dressage, show jumping or endurance riding; some RDA Groups offer carriage driving and vaulting (gymnastics on horseback). The therapeutic benefits of competition are well recognised and RDA participants can choose to compete in the annual RDA National Championships, the biggest event of its kind in the world. Every member of the 2012 Paralympic Equestrian Team has a relationship with RDA.
How is RDA organised, who is it for and how much will it cost?
A network of 500 volunteer Groups allows RDA to realise its objectives across the UK via weekly riding sessions of 30 minutes or so to more than 28,000 children and adults.
RDA is for anyone with a disability. Applicants are assessed to ensure they are safe to ride, to establish how much support they need and whether or not they require specialist equipment. Although RDA Groups work to achieve a common purpose and provide similar activities, they are organised differently, as each Group is also an individual charity.
All Groups offer subsidised riding sessions; the degree of subsidy varies. RDA Groups operate from a range of venues, from large purpose built facilities offering various classes to individuals and groups to small clusters of passionate volunteers who rent, borrow or loan ponies to provide a weekly session in a field. Many RDA Groups are based in commercial riding centres and use horses and ponies stabled there. There is also variation of duration of riding with RDA; many Groups provide riding to schoolchildren for a term or half term and individuals may be offered riding for a specified or unspecified period.
How person centred is RDA and are participants included in shaping services?
RDA intends to learn from its experience and the experience of its stakeholders. The RDA Outcomes Tracker is person focused and captures observations from riders, parents, teachers, therapists and support workers. Results from the therapeutic outcomes surveys will inform our coaching and therapy strategies.
Participants are represented on various RDA committees to ensure their views and ideas are represented. The full range of volunteering is also open to RDA participants. Inclusion is integral to RDA’s operation and the charity works in partnership with allied organisations to achieve a world that sees people with disabilities as equal stakeholders, for example RDA is driving the Accessibility Mark, a scheme to extend expertise of working with riders with disabilities to commercial riding centres.
Is RDA a learning organisation?
RDA has a research strategy and is pleased to welcome research, student placements and opportunities for shared learning. Future plans include increasing the number of therapists who can contribute their time to RDA and providing more training to volunteers. Training is likely to include subjects such as person centred planning, evaluation, coaching, awareness of particular disabilities and therapies and how to optimise outcomes for riders and volunteers. Relationships with educationalists and professional organisations representing therapeutic disciplines will also be important in shaping service development.