AFTER a slow start at the end of lockdown last Spring, all those involved are delighted that the majority of RDA Groups in Northern Ireland are now back in action, delivering services to school groups, as well as independent riders and adults, albeit on a reduced scale.
Group Trustees felt that it would be sensible to limit the number of participants and volunteers on site in order to reduce the chances of spreading Covid 19 and work through the various protocols that have been introduced to keep everyone safe. Hopefully, if all goes well, they will be able to increase capacity after Christmas.
Some groups have faced more challenges in returning to work, as the equines they used pre-covid are no longer available and they have had to seek out new facilities. Others have simply felt that their volunteer demographic means that they cannot continue.
RDA is grateful to Lusk’s Equestrian Centre for providing new facilities for two Groups, as well as their existing Lisburn Group; and to Joanne Orr’s Ballyward Carriage Driving Group for finding space for the adults from Mourne Grange, whose group has closed. Hopefully, eventually, RDA will find suitable locations for everyone who is facing these difficulties.
September saw three Groups participating in the Virtual National Championships after the successful Virtual Regional Qualifier in the summer. Omagh, Coleraine and Newtownards all had riders who qualified to compete in the Championships – an achievement in itself, as only the top 12 scores in each class qualified – and they put up a terrific performance, with two seconds, a third and a fourth place in various disciplines and some very good scores across the board.
The general view was that this was a great idea, which allowed the riders to compete on their own horses in a familiar venue, without the stress and expense of travelling and hopefully this will continue – although it would be lovely to have a live competition next year as well!
Volunteers are always wanted – so if you can spare a couple of hours please get in touch, using the website to find your local group at www.ridingforthedisabledni.org