Nithsdale and Stewartry Riding for the Disabled Association Group back in the saddle after coronavirus break

Nithsdale and Stewartry Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) are happy to be back in the saddle after a long hiatus due to Covid-19.

In the fall of 2021, the band thanked three of its members – Betty Howard, Pat Saxon and Chris Hughes for their extraordinary commitment to the band over the past 16, 10 and 19 years respectively.

Not only did they lead and organize the committee and the many volunteers needed for the RDA sessions, but also and above all, they allowed many disabled children and adults to taste the pleasure of riding.

Longtime GDR members Betty Howard, Pat Saxon and Chris Hughes

After thanking and appreciating their outgoing members, the current RDA committee then proceeded to resume the activities of the group.

Four new volunteers were recruited, a new venue in Fairhill, near Milton, Crocketford, was secured and sessions restarted on a Thursday afternoon.

Using horses and ponies provided by Fairhill Services, two hour-long rides are held each week, with six adult riders and six children benefiting.

Under the expert and fun tutelage of trained trainers, Margie Bryson and Wendy Miliken, riders practice starting, stopping and turning their pony and varying the speed of the walk.

Some are learning to trot, which obviously means that leaders and walkers must also be prepared to run a little.

They undertake various games and exercises to perfect their knowledge and skills.

They negotiate obstacles, pick up and move small items from pits around the arena, and answer horse-related questions.

Each rider has a volunteer who holds the pony with a lead rope, though the rider is the one giving the pony commands, and another volunteer walks alongside if the rider seems unsteady or needs help communicating.

For many riders, developing an understanding of the horse or pony, balancing on their backs and learning to control their movements, becomes the highlight of their week and can mean agency and freedom of movement that they don’t have. just have no everyday. life.

A spokesperson for the group said: “If you want to participate in this very interesting activity, you enjoy handling horses and working with people with various special needs and are fit enough to be able to walk quickly around an outdoor arena, then the group would be delighted to hear from you.

“New volunteers are welcome at any time and ongoing induction and training will be provided.”

For details, telephone 01556 660491 or email

Details of other RDA groups in Dumfries and Galloway can be found on the Riding for the Disabled Association website:

Ida M. Morgan