Parents rave about the Dales Riding for the Disabled band

A disabled RIDING group celebrates the end of a very successful first year with Buckstone Equestrian Centre, in the countryside above Sutton-in-Craven.

The Otley and Dales RDA Monday say they are delighted with the horses and ponies in the stables, the facilities and the warm welcome their members have received from owner Sue Houlker and her staff.

During the year, the group saw the retirement of Jacky Murfin, a volunteer for over 30 years, as well as Wendy and Bob Woodham.

Jan Wheelock of the RDA Group said: ‘Wendy was a much loved coach and Bob was great at making gear for us and was always there to volunteer. We enjoyed two afternoon teas at Herriots, Skipton; and Moss and Moor, Ilkley to give them proper despatches with many thanks.”

The group recently held its first open house, to which all parents of current riders were invited.

Children from Embsay and Greatwood Schools, Skipton, also benefited from regular sessions with the group.

Jan said: “Parents were amazed at what the kids had achieved over the year – the first time they had ridden for two years or more due to Covid restrictions. Kids can’t wait Monday morning and were eager to show their parents what they could do.”

One parent wrote: “It was fantastic for my son to be part of RDA riding. It has made a significant difference to his well-being, and he is so happy on the horse. He has become so much more confident and ready to try new activities.”

A second parent said: “My son says he loves to hold the reins and lead. Riding gives him the ability to control movement which he misses so much in his daily life – many thanks to the RDA for his selfless dedication and for providing such an enriching experience for the children.”

Other parents said their kids improved their balance, strength, and focus while riding.

“A nearly blind young lady is not afraid of ponies – she loves to touch and groom them and rides them so positively,” Jan said.

“Some of these children are entering secondary schools in September – we wish them well and hope they can keep rolling. We have plans underway to take the maximum number of children in September for our regular Monday slots morning.”

The group has four trained coaches and a team of loyal DBS-monitored volunteers. The group owns several ponies which are housed at the Hopewell Equestrian Centre, Otley, where riding sessions take place on Thursdays and Sundays.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer, or who would like to inquire about possible equestrian places, can contact Jan Wheelock on 07710 829540 or by e-mail: [email protected]

Clyde P. Johnson