Updated: May 29
As many of you will know, I fell in love with Dave when he joined Cotswold RDA in 2013 (I’ll tell you the story of how I learned of Dave another time). For the past seven years, except for some time out last year due to an injury, Dave has been a valued member of the CRDA team and has contributed to riding lessons for hundreds of disabled riders over that period.
I will be donating a percentage of my profit from my first book – Dave and Darcy Go to the Beach – to Cotswold RDA, and I want to tell you a little bit more about them, so you can understand why they’re such an important charity.
Cotswold RDA was established over 50 years ago and since then has grown to provide riding lessons for more than 200 riders each week. These riders either have physical or mental disabilities, or learning difficulties, and horse riding has multiple benefits to them including increasing core strength and enhancing their daily lives.
As well as the core and after school lessons, CRDA organise activities for half-terms, Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays. These activities allow continuity for those who don’t want to have a break from riding, as well as the opportunity for other riders to experience the magic of horses in a safe and fun space.
Cotswold RDA also have a mechanical horse called Sedbury Shadow, who is perfect for riders who aren’t suited to a real pony, or are perhaps a little bit scared of horses but want to experience the sensation of walking, trotting and cantering. The built-in screen allows riders to wander through the countryside, the beach or even a safari park!
The other amazing activity CRDA organise is Tea with a Pony, which is aimed at those living with dementia and other disabilities. Participants get to watch a riding lesson, enjoy a cup of tea and cake, and then meet one of the ponies. Family members are welcome to attend and revisit memories with their loved ones, which are often sparked by being around the ponies.
Don’t just take my word for it…
It’s easy for me to talk about how great the RDA is, as I’ve taken part in lessons and seen first-hand the difference it can make. Here are a few quotes from some of the riders my mum and I know about their experience at Cotswold RDA.
Kitty, age 11: “Hi, my name is Kitty and I go to the Cotswold RDA. I love it there because everyone is so warm and friendly and I’ve met some really nice people there. They have also been really supportive of my family and I, and will always try to help anyone. I love the RDA because I’ve been going there since I was four years old and going riding is one of my favourite things to do. I am so happy I started going riding there because I don’t know what I would do without them now.”
Leila (Lilac’s mum): “Lilac has been part of Team Cotswold for nearly 18 months now. From the moment we entered the arena for the first time, we felt such a sense of calm and belonging. From her very first lesson Lilac’s confidence started to grow, and the impact that this had on her in every single sense was incredible. Team Cotswold have taken the time to set Lilac targets, and they stand together as a cheering squad to empower her to meet them. The sense of achievement that Lilac has felt again is something that she takes into life outside of the arena and makes the most incredible difference. We are constantly grateful to have access to such an incredible facility. Thank you 💜”
It costs over £200,000 to run Cotswold RDA each year and this year has proved one of the most challenging yet. The awful weather at the start of the year meant many lessons had to be cancelled, meaning loss of revenue, and the Coronavirus outbreak has forced them to close down temporarily, as they’re not able to continue running lessons.
Whether you choose to purchase my book or make your own direct contribution, CRDA will be so grateful for your support. The best way to keep up to date with fundraising events and news is to check their website – www.cotswoldrda.org.uk – or follow them on Facebook – @CotswoldRDA. If you’re not able to donate, even sharing a post to your friends could be a huge help.