BLACKWATER Equestrian, in West Wellow, recently thanked the Hedge End Rotary Group for being able to make a donation this week to the Riding for the Disabled Association. 

They were thrilled to be joined by the chairman and a few other members to come and participate and support the group. 

Nearly six decades ago a handful of pioneers recognised the powerful connection between people and horses and the therapeutic impact for disabled people in particular – a movement as born.

Today the amazing network of RDA Groups, volunteers and horses enrich thousands of lives across the UK.

Princess Anne has been the patron for over 50 years and she takes a very active interest in individual centres and events throughout the year. 

The Romsey group has been running for over 25 years, relying on charitable donations. They have been able to help hundreds of children with learning disabilities and long term physical and mental health conditions experience riding and enjoy the outdoors.

They currently have 17 dedicated volunteers, a number of whom have been with us for many years. Although they are a small group they believe that they are able to deliver a very unique and worthwhile experience to many children under the age of 11.

For every rider they are required to have one person leading the horse/pony and two side walkers, plus an instructor. The instructors tailor the sessions to suit every individual child’s needs, introducing games and exercises and encouraging them to become more connected to their horse and surroundings, listening and interacting with those around them.

They are grateful to Claire and Mark Hallion at Blackwater Equestrian Centre in West Wellow who generously provide them with two horses and the use of their facilities where they run a session every week for 16 children coming from two special schools, Springwell, Thornhill, Southampton and Shepherds Down. 

Volunteers are all trained to a high standard and instructors have gone through the vigorous RDA extended training program before they are registered to take on these exceptionally important roles. 

They rely entirely on donations to cover the necessary expenses involved in running our group and today, they are very pleased that David Small, chairman and members of Hedge End Rotary Club, have been able to join to watch sessions and meet volunteers. 

As one of their chosen charities this year, they are delighted to accept a cheque on behalf of Romsey RDA and to say a huge thank you to all those who contribute in so many ways to help the group flourish in the future.