A round up of the last months

17 January 2021

in The Latest News, The Riders, Volunteers

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Last March 2020, we had to suspend all activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We did not know when we would be able to reopen and it was a challenging time for us. We were fortunate that we had plenty of outside space, a kind farmer and a dedicated cohort of volunteers who enabled us to keep our RDA ponies fit and healthy.  They either rode, or led, Alfie, Diesel, Jessie, Keira and Marco around the fields and included arena work such as long reining and pole work.  Plenty of outdoor space meant that we could put in place social distancing requirements keeping our volunteers safe whilst at the yard.

To keep our riders and volunteers in touch with us we regularly used Zoom, posted photographs and videos on our website and Facebook page as well as asking for artwork and stories for our sponsors.

In June 2020, as things began to improve, we were able to reopen and bring back some of our riders.  Social distancing is still paramount and so we offered the chance to come and visit their pony in a newly set up “quiet corner” helping them to keep the bond with their pony intact until it is safe for them to return to riding.   Each session was given as a one-to-one, Coach and Rider, with a working bubble of volunteers providing the necessary back-up of checking temperatures and track and trace lists, sanitising between sessions and ensuring the pony was under control.  This progressed to offering horse care and stable management sessions enabling riders to groom, learn to tack-up and the names of the bits of tack, grooming equipment and pony, how to rug up and bandage and for some long-reining and mucking-out.  103 of these activities have so far been given.

In September, further guideline changes enabled us to offer a mounted session to those riders who did not require a lot of assistance, by training their family bubble members to sidewalk and, in one case lead, together with mounting and dismounting.  From September 2020 to January 2021, we had been able to safely give 34 one to one riding sessions before the country was then plunged into lockdown again and our activities had to be suspended.

All of our sessions have incurred risk assessments and protocols; a return to riding assessment for our riders and a huge amount of time and planning, so our thanks go to Karen, who has led this, and our coaches, Pat, Puffin and Verena and to Jill and Val, as Volunteer Coordinators, for organising a small band of volunteers, who have the system running like clockwork.  It has meant that all bar 3 out of 29 of our riders have been able to return for one or other form of activity.

During this current lockdown the team are continuing to exercise our ponies 2 at a time to conform to guidelines, so that we will be ready to welcome our riders back as soon as we are able.  We are looking at new ways of being able to run horse care sessions such as by Zoom for our riders and hoping that we will be able to use video links to use in sessions and for training our volunteers.

We thank all of those who have continued to support us either financially or with goods and encouragement and we hope it is not too long before we can resume, and that ‘Team Stratford’ is back to full strength doing what it does best for the benefit of all our riders.

If you are not already linked to our Facebook page or website, please consider subscribing, so that you can see the wonderful photos of our riders over the past few months and various other posts.

www.rda-stratford.org.uk     https://www.facebook.com/RDA.StratfordUponAvon

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