RDA announces plans to support 10,000 more participants in new strategy

  • The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has announced an “ambitious” new strategy, with plans to support an additional 10,000 children and adults by 2025.

    The charity has set out a three-year plan focusing on key areas; growth, resources for groups, structure, participants and volunteers, brand and sustainability. Plans include opening 40 new groups and 30 new accessibility mark centres (commercial riding schools trained by the RDA), developing new activities and expanding non-ridden activities, including programmes to support mental health, and recognising the part RDA can play in “social prescribing”.

    New interim chief executive Paul Ringer, who replaces Ed Bracher next month when he leaves the charity after 17 years at the helm, told H&H the charity needs to “get ambitious” in what can be achieved.

    “We are an organisation with an army of passionate and highly skilled volunteers – that’s the lifeblood of the charity,” he said. “The reality is we were hit by the pandemic in terms of numbers of riders and volunteers, and that’s not going to suddenly just bounce back, but there’s every hope with the right support our groups can really start to thrive again.

    “Growth will need to be led and owned by groups locally, and supported centrally in a way that makes sense. There are some locations where we’d like to see more centres, and we’re here to do some hand-holding with groups trying to get back to pre-Covid levels.

    “We’re trying to take a broader view about the widest range of people who can benefit from the RDA family or being around horses, and that’s where some of the new activities will come into play. Riding isn’t for everyone, but there’s also benefits from non-ridden activities that we can offer beyond the obvious and traditional.”

    Mr Ringer said there are some “challenges” to overcome, including sourcing suitable horses which has been a major issue for the charity (news, 6 May).

    “We know this continues to be a battle, and we are working on an equine plan looking at different solutions, from training young horses to raising more funds for buying horses,” he said.

    “We’ve got to look at all options because if we’re just waiting for a single-solution response we’ll be waiting a long time and missing an opportunity to help more riders – and that’s not OK.”

    RDA president the Princess Royal said the new strategy signals “a moment of change and opportunity”.

    “United by our goal to bring the benefits of horses to as many disabled people as possible, we have a chance to make even more of a difference to communities all over the UK,” she said.

    “During my visits to RDA groups I have seen first-hand the life-changing impact of our activities, brought about by that unique combination of participant, horse and volunteer. Now as we look to strengthen our groups and grow our reach, we will explore new ways for people to benefit – with horses at the heart of everything we do.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...