Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – For Volunteers

The support from volunteers is critical to our success. Any question not answered here should be directed to one of our members by calling 0845 450 6843 (calls cost 2p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge). These are a few questions we have been asked and thought it would be useful to share with you.

What is RDA?
RDA stands for Riding for the Disabled Association, a national federation of Member Groups, which is dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities, through the provision of opportunities for riding, vaulting and/or carriage driving . We hope this site, under the various sections, will help you understand, but if you are looking for more, why not visit the national RDA site at Stratford Upon Avon RDA  is a separate registered charity, responsible for the day-to-day running & funding of its own activities, relying entirely on volunteer support.

Do I need to know about horses?
Any experience with horses or ponies is great but not essential. To help at a riding session you should feel comfortable around horses, but full training is given.

Are there any requirements?
All volunteers are required to complete a Volunteer Application form and pass the Disclosure & Barring Service (ex CRB) check. However there are no tests for reliability, enthusiasm, dedication & willingness to help!! If you’ve got these in abundance & a big smile too we’d love you to join us. To help with a riding session you need to be able to walk briskly for around 1 hr at a time.

What do I actually do as a volunteer helper?
During a class, you can help as a leader or side walker. Both roles require awareness & empathy to both the rider’s & horse’s mood & ability. The leader is responsible for leading & controlling the horse. The sidewalker walks next to the rider & is there to assure the riders safety & assist as needed – perhaps helping with balance or explaining the teacher’s instructions. At the end of the class the helpers provide feedback on the riders progress. Other jobs on riding days include grooming, tacking-up horses ready for the ride & setting up equipment in the arena.

When & where are the riding lessons held?
Riding sessions are held on at The Stable Yard, Home Farm, Compton Verney CV35 9HJ. There are three sessions on Monday mornings between 9 – 11am and three sessions on Tuesday afternoons between 3 – 5.15pm each for a duration of 30-45mins.  Also a new session has now commenced on a Wednesday morning at 10.30am.

Do I have to be available to come along every week, to all sessions?
Not at all. Simply let the Ride Co-ordinator know when you are available. It may be one or both sessions, weekly, monthly or ad hoc. Or if you prefer we can contact you on a “if required” basis. Any time you can help is welcome.

Do volunteers receive training?
All training involving horses or ponies is to standards laid down by RDA National Office. Regular training sessions are held to keep our volunteers up to date with procedures, rider progress & legislation. Each volunteer has an individual training log & there is always a qualified RDA Instructor around if you need assistance or advice.

What should I wear?
Stout comfortable footwear, gloves, no dangly jewellery, a fastened jacket, warm layers in winter! Please no strong smelling perfume & mobile phones switched off.

Will I be insured? Yes.  All RDA Groups have Trustee Indemnity, Public Liability insurance for all volunteers.  Volunteers between 12 and 90 also have Personal Accident insurance (with some restrictions for those aged between 80 and 90).

Are there other ways I can help?
Lots. We are always looking for volunteers to organise & help with fund-raising. Also general administration skills such as PR, IT, accountancy etc are always very useful, as is access to printing facilities etc. For funding we rely on the generosity of local businesses, individuals & groups. You may know someone or have contacts that would be willing to make a donation, sponsor a rider or special event. How about bringing along a friend & get them involved as a volunteer.

My son/daughter would like to volunteer – is this possible?
Volunteers must be at least 12yrs old & whilst we welcome young people as helpers, consideration should be made regarding transport arrangements, homework commitments etc. We support Duke of Edinburgh and thus we are able to sign such paperwork, if required.  There is also the opportunity of undertaking a Young Equestrian Leader Award or Pony Club badge.

Can I volunteer if I have a disability?  RDA works hard to ensure that we are able to offer opportunities to any person, regardless of background.  therefore where there is sufficient capacity and where the welfare of our riders and horses is not put at risk we will endeavour to find a suitable role for any person with a disability.

I’m interested in becoming a volunteer, what do I do next?
Thank you for your interest in Stratford Upon Avon RDA. Please contact us & we’ll do the rest.