BANBRIDGE and Moira Riding for the Disabled (RDA) group meets every Thursday morning at Tullynewbank Stables in Glenavy. There are riders of all ages and abilities participating in weekly lessons and activities including dressage, show jumping and games.
The highlight of last year was a group visit to Castle Leslie Estate and a ride around the beautiful grounds in June 2019. It was a fun day out for the riders and volunteers that challenged the riders both physically and mentally, as the environment and terrain was very different from riding in the sand school!
Donna, one of the riders, describes the day out:
“Last June, l was fortunate enough to get picked to go to Castle Leslie with my group to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the RDA. We drove down to Co. Monaghan in convoy and had a picnic in the car park, before heading off to the tack room to get our hats checked. Then we went round to the outdoor arena to meet our ponies and mount. My pony was called ‘Murray’ and he was a big, grey horse, standing about 14 hands high, as opposed to the pony l ride every week at Tullynewbank Stables, which is only around 12 hands. At first, l was a little nervous about being so high up, but I had a good team round me, with two great side walkers and a lovely lrish girl called Majesta, who led ‘Murray’ and worked in the stables at Castle Leslie. She soon put me at my ease and, after a couple of laps of the arena, I was ready to go out for a hack around the beautiful grounds of the castle, because I could tell that ‘Murray’ was a gentle giant.
“We walked along a path beside a meandering river and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds to illuminate the green pastures on the opposite bank, where I could see more horses and ponies grazing. Majesta was able to tell me each of their names and a little about their individual temperaments, which I found very interesting. Then we came to a dark, wooded area and I was able to gaze up into the branches of the trees at intervals from my vantage point to see if l could spy some different species of birds, squirrels or even a pine marten, while still keeping a watchful eye on where l was steering ‘Murray’; but, unfortunately, l did not see any unusual wildlife. Perhaps it was just the wrong time of the day.
“We also got the opportunity to go for a little walk through a stream. The water was a peaty-brown colour and it stained ‘Murray’s’ fetlocks like gold.
“I really enjoyed my day out at Castle Leslie and still talk about it and what a beautiful pony ‘Murray’ was.”
When riding resumes, Banbridge and Moira RDA group would welcome new riders and volunteers. If you are interested, please get in touch with Group Organiser, Libby Robinson and arrange to go along to see what they do, email: email@example.com