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Riding for the Disabled (RDA) 2022 Grants

In 2022 one of the charities we supported was Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) who received 25% of the total funds raised. RDA gave grants to numerous centres around the country to help with their 'Tea with a Pony' initiative, helping people with dementia and other long-term conditions. Read on to find out how our grants have helped RDA centres with this incredible initiative.

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Blairgowrie RDA

Blairgowrie RDA serves numerous small villages in the surrounding rural area, and the group would now like to extend its offering to older members of the community who are unable to ride but would still benefit from interacting with horses.

The group have seen first-hand the benefits that being around horses can bring, and are positive that Tea With a Pony would be a well-supported and much-welcomed activity in their area. Blairgowrie RDA have a number of elderly residents living at home, in care homes, and in supported living facilities in the area. The group believes that Tea With a Pony will enrich the lives of these elderly residents and maybe even bring back some wonderful memories.

To achieve this, the group needs to adapt their facilities to accommodate these elderly visitors. With the grant from Horses4Health, the group can make some changes to their yard and barn to enable these visitors to enjoy a safe environment whilst interacting with their equines.

With the support of the grant, the group will be offering one Tea With a Pony experience each week with approximately 6 participants and their carers.

East Liverpool RDA

East Liverpool RDA have been delivering Tea With a Pony for people living with dementia since 2019. They work with a local dementia care home, who bring their residents each week on a rotation from the home. During a session, the residents watch a riding lesson while enjoying tea and cake, and then spend some time with the ponies. These trips are the highlight of the resident’s week and there is a waiting list for more residents to come along. Once bird flu restrictions allow, the residents will also be able to walk amongst the East Liverpool RDA chickens and ducks, adding to the overall experience. Their impact research shows that there is an improvement in their participants wellbeing after the sessions, with many stating they feel happier after each visit.

The grant will be used to support additional costs of the groom to be in the RDA role of Activity Leader, which is a new role introduced by RDA enabling volunteers to run Tea With a Pony session (whereas a group would normally need a Coach to run it). In turn, this will enable East Liverpool RDA to deliver more sessions. The grant would mean they can run 10 days of activities which would support 200 participants.


Elisabeth Curtis

From the grant, the Elisabeth Curtis group will purchase a range of tea making equipment and tea sets for use at the Tea With a Pony sessions, including push button tea dispenser, cups and saucers, cake stands, and tables.

Elisabeth Curtis RDA are new to Tea With a Pony, and so the grant will be supporting the to get started with sessions. Part of the equipment includes a push button tea dispenser, which is a safer alternative to their existing plugged-in boiler. They also currently do not have any cake sets or crockery to serve their tea and cake on, so the purchase of these are needed.

By purchasing this equipment, they can accommodate up to 12 people per session. Following their pilot, they would like to increase this to 6-weekly session with the view to move to a month session. Elisabeth Curtis expects to create further capacity in the week for more sessions. On the minimum of a 6-weekly basis this would be up to 104 participants, and could increase to 144+. They prospect that this would lead to 50 new participants a year for the group.


Ettrickbridge and Dryden RDA

Ettrickbridge and Dryen RDA started Tea With a Pony in 2021. With the grant, they would like to enhance the participants experience by providing small gifts and posies of flowers for each guest as a treasured keepsake.

They would also like to be able to offer some assistance to potential participants to cover travel costs. Their group is currently not serviced by public transport and outside of the town, meaning participants rely on relatives, taxi hire or community transport to reach them. Assistance with travel would allow more guests to visit and take part in the rewarding experience.

At present, they keep numbers to 4 participants per session for a more personal session. Sessions run 3 or 4 times a term, meaning 12 participants are supported between April and June, and a further 12 at the start of the Autumn term. The total number of participants is 24.


Exeter RDA

Following a successful pilot with 21 participants (including carers), Exeter RDA would like to offer sessions on a regular basis, but need some equipment to support this. With the grant, Exeter RDA would like to purchase a table for the sessions, as their current tables are picnic benches and inaccessible for people with mobility issues. They would also like to purchase a shelter or gazebo to protect their participants from the elements. Finally, they would like to purchase a large pump thermos. For these sessions, they hope to have 10 participant per session and run around 5 sessions per year, helping a total of 50 additional participants on top of their normal riding sessions.

Fairlight Hall RDA

Fairlight Hall have only recently launched their Tea With a Pony sessions in December 2022. They will run one session per month on a day they currently open for riding sessions, benefitting 16 participants a month from a local dementia care home. They aim to run two sessions per month in the future. The grant will cover all their costs for these sessions.

The grant will benefit a group of people who have limited access to the outdoors/nature and animals. Fairlight Hall want to provide them with a sensory experience – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – with the calming presence of our horses together with the warmth and companionship of our volunteers.

Gaddesden Place RDA

Gaddesden Place are already offering Tea With a Pony sessions to participants with complex needs, learning disabilities, dementia, and those with mental health conditions. They would like to grow their sessions further, so they are helping up to five groups of participants a week. The grant will subsidise the cost of the sessions for groups, so that the cost isn’t a barrier for some groups or individuals wishing to attend.


Gatmore RDA

Gatmore RDA currently offer two afternoon tea sessions for carers, providing a respite from their caring responsibilities, or they can bring the people they care for with them to share the experience. They have had a very positive response from these sessions and would like to continue offering these sessions, which the grant will help support by covering the cost of pony hire, facilities, and refreshments.

The sessions include a tour of the site, including a walk through their accessible sensory trail and outdoor learning areas, followed by time with a pony, where they can meet the pony up-close or simply watch from a distance. Refreshments will be provided as well.

Gatmore would like the opportunity to incorporate music into the sessions, as it has been shown to help with memory in those with dementia.

They have a maximum of 30-40 people at these sessions.

Gordon RDA

Gordon RDA are new to Tea With a Pony, and plan to invite local groups from local charities, nursing homes, and schools in their community to these sessions. The sessions will support people from a broad age spectrum and different disabilities.

The group is also developing an accessible sensory trail, which they aim to complete by April 2023. Tea With a Pony groups will be able to enjoy the sensory trail. The grant will go towards the Tea With a Pony sessions and sensory trail. They plan to run sessions every two weeks to start with, and will aim to increase these over the summertime. They estimate to support 150 people over the summer months in Tea With a Pony sessions.

Haworth RDA

Despite launching Tea With a Pony last year, Haworth RDA have struggled to gain momentum with the activity and have had a small amount of interest. This grant will help them target local care homes, focusing on one care home a month for 6 months. They will invite 5 residents to come, along with their carers. Specifically, the grant will allow the group to bring in extra staff to run the event with allocated focus on the project. Through these once-a-month sessions, they aim to build a relationship with local care homes and spark interest in attending regular sessions. From an estimated 5 participants per session once a month, this will benefit 30 individuals.

Hebden Bridge RDA

New to Tea With a Pony, Hebden Bridge RDA would like to introduce this activity to their group. Tea With a Pony would be incorporated into their regular session programmes.

The grant will go towards providing a mobile viewing gallery and seating, which can be placed at the edge of their grassed arena, offering both individuals and small groups a space to observe the arena activities, such as riding, lunging, and liberty work. The gallery will also provide a safe space for close up contact with the horses for stroking and grooming.

Being an outside-only group, they aim to trial weekly sessions from May to August. They will start with a small group of participants first, aiming to support 24 new participants and their carers/families.

Horsely and Bookham RDA

Horsely and Bookham RDA are new to Tea With a Pony and would like to use the sessions as a fundraising exercise and to raise awareness of their group amongst their local community. The grant would support refreshments and decorations for the sessions, as well as some sensory equipment. The Tea With a Pony sessions would support local schools and independent riders. They would like to offer 3 sessions and get at least 30 people to each of these.

Lambourne RDA

Lambourne RDA already offer unmounted activities like grooming for those unable or unwilling to rode, but want to benefit from the interactions with horses. They are now extending this to Tea With a Pony for those living with dementia and other long-term disabilities.

They currently use an outdoor arena and so are looking purchase a marquee with the grant so that those attending the sessions can be placed near the riding sessions and enjoy tea and cake in comfort. This will also facilitate bringing the ponies over to be stroked.

The grant would also go toward the purchase of matching crockery and more appropriate mugs, as their current ones are difficult to use for those with reduced manual dexterity. For the first 6 months of their project, they anticipate running a session for 6 people, plus their carers, each month.


Leeds Area RDA

Leeds Area RDA run riding lessons at the weekend and plan to offer Tea With a Pony sessions during the week. They have a volunteer who has almost completed their Activity Leader training, which will enable them to run Tea With a Pony without the need for a Coach.

The grant will be used to allow the purchase of a disabled access picnic bench, which will allow participants to sit comfortably and enjoy some refreshments whilst watching the ponies outside. The grant would also go towards a hay feeder, which is moveable and will be used to allow the participants to watch the horses feed in the paddock where they could be safely petted over the fence. Sessions will start with 5-10 participants at twice a month. This could mean a maximum of 20 new participants a month.


Moray RDA

Moray RDA have recently renovated a portacabin, which is being used as a classroom, office, storeroom, and meeting area. They hope to start Tea With a Pony sessions for the first time after summer, starting with a small group of 3 and their carers, with a view to increasing the number of sessions later on. However, before they can start offering sessions, they would like to have a disability access ramp to the portacabin. The grant would help do this and thus provide a safe, ramped access to their cabin where participants can have refreshments before meeting the ponies.

Morpeth RDA

Morpeth have been running successful Tea With a Pony sessions since November 2021 to a diverse range of participants. They would like to expand their session to include specific sessions for local care homes as part of their regular social events. The grant will support Morpeth RDA in publicity costs and helping to offset the costs of refreshments at the sessions.

Mount Group RDA

Having moved to a new venue, Mount Group RDA are now able to offer Tea With a Pony. They have much of the facilities already needed, such as a cosy kitchen, accessible parking, and accessible toilets. The group want to use this opportunity to reach out to people in their local community and in turn, become more involved in their community. The grant will help Mount Group offer these Tea With a Pony sessions to the local community. Once they have gotten settled into offering Tea With a Pony, they aim to increase the number of session they offer, and to make it a sustainable venture for the group.

Mount Pleasant RDA

Mount Pleasant RDA are new to Tea With a Pony and plan to provide the sessions to residents of a local care home. The sessions will involve afternoon tea whilst they watch their independent riders perform a demonstration ride, followed by an opportunity to spend time with their ponies and enjoy the calming effects. They have found that for some, these sessions are the participants only opportunity for the residents to experience getting out in the fresh air, as well as enjoy the countryside and their local community. The grant will go towards the cost of an event marquee to protect the participants from the elements. As a pilot, they would have 6 participants per session to begin with and offer it to different groups each week.

Penniwells RDA

Peniwells RDA Tea With a Pony sessions will offer participants the opportunity to watch one of their weekday riding lessons whilst enjoying some refreshments, followed by an opportunity to meet the ponies. Family members are also welcome to join and revisit memories, or create new experiences together. The grant will support Penniwells in providing refreshments for the sessions and cover the costs of a coach for each session.

Ravensewood RDA

Ravenswood RDA would like to introduce Tea With a Pony to their group in spring/summer 2023. They aim to target several vulnerable adults unable to ride or drive within their local community for Tea With a Pony activities. They plan to run sessions where they participants can groom and pet the ponies, and enjoy some refreshments. Ravenswood also plan to take their Tea With a Pony on the road, visiting those residents who are housebound at their residencies. The grant would be first used to ensure volunteers have been trained to deliver Tea With a Pony. They would also use some of the budget to promote the sessions within the village itself and possibly to external organisations. The group would also like to use the grant to invest in some new colourful head collars for the horses that would be used in the sessions, and some grooming kits for the residents to have a go at grooming with. The sessions would support 2-6 participants per session, and could easily be grown if they are a success.

Saxon RDA

Saxon RDA successfully launched Tea With a Pony in 2022 to those living with dementia, learning disabilities, and mental health conditions. They are aiming to run sessions twice a month. A large pool of people now benefit from the sessions.

Saxon RDA are using the grant to purchase an instant polaroid camera and film, so that they can capture the experience for their families who may not have been able to attend the sessions. They currently have 8 participants, but plan to open up another session per month to meet the demand. They have a lot of support and good connections in the community.  

Syndale RDA

Part of the grant will support Syndale RDA to publicise their Tea With a Pony sessions to the local community, including care homes and support groups for those living with dementia. Through publicising and running their sessions, the group hopes to grow their sessions and make it a regular activity at the group. The grant will also support the group in the expenses of the sessions, including coach and equipment hire fees. Syndale RDA are new to Tea With a Pony, and so will initially start running sessions with 5 people per session, with the aim to extend to 10 people per session. Over a period of 6 months, over 100 could benefit from the project.

South West Cornwall RDA

SW Cornwall RDA would like to use the grant to get started with their Tea With a Pony sessions, as they are new to the activity. They’d like to open the sessions particularly to people living with dementia. They hope by opening the session they can improve the quality of the relationship between participant and their carers. The grant will be used for equipment hire and promotional materials. To start, they would have up to 5 residents with their carers per session. They plan to run 5 initial sessions, meaning a total of up to 50 people during the introduction period.  

The Cavalier Centre RDA

The Cavalier Centre RDA will be using the grant to help increase the number and frequency of sessions for those living with dementia, their carers and family. Their sessions follow the recognised format of enjoying a chat with tea and cake whilst watching a ridden or driven session in the arena, followed by meeting the ponies first hand and hands on. Sadly, the arena can be quite cold throughout most of the year, and particularly to those whose mobility is limited. The chairs they offer can also be cold when sat on for a while. The grant will go towards some comfortable cushions and washable fleece blankets to make their participants feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Using the grant, The Cavalier Centre RDA would also like to purchase a polaroid camera and film which can be used to take pictures of the participants, who will then be able to take them away and share with their family and friends, creating memories and enjoying time and again.

Their sessions will reach a large number of people over the year, with a minimum of 10 per week.

Wilton RDA

Wilton RDA started Tea With a Pony in early 2022 and run sessions every fortnight for 5-6 people per session. The sessions have been attended by participants with a range of disabilities, from brain trauma and MS to dementia. The sessions have been successful and they’ve had extremely positive feedback about them. They have found that Tea With a Pony can also benefit those living with other conditions and disabilities. They recently held an open day where they had visits from Blind Veterans and Help for Heroes. Wilton RDA would like to raise their profile and develop more as a community resource. The grant would go towards helping them promote their sessions more proactively, including website changes and production of a leaflet to go into GP surgeries. The new promotional materials will be taken to local events and centres, to help explain what they do and how they can help.

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