Work, Rest And Play

The next few months will be very busy for Tof­fee as he set­tles into his new role as a Rid­ing for the Dis­abled pony . . .

The People's Friend - - Helping Others -

LAST month we met Tof­fee, the lat­est ar­rival at Cotswold Rid­ing for the Dis­abled group. Through­out 2017 we will be following Tof­fee’s progress, as well as meet­ing some of the rid­ers and RDA vol­un­teers who will be work­ing with him.

Like all RDA ponies, those at Cotswold RDA are very spe­cial. They have great tem­per­a­ments, are end­lessly pa­tient and very good­na­tured.

How­ever, be­fore they can wear their badge of hon­our, they have to go through weeks of train­ing to make sure they make the grade.

A big part of the ther­a­peu­tic ben­e­fit of RDA’S ac­tiv­i­ties is the move­ment of the horse, which is great for de­vel­op­ing leg mus­cles, core strength, bal­ance and over­all mus­cle con­trol.

The right size of horse is key to en­sur­ing that rid­ers re­ceive the max­i­mum ther­a­peu­tic im­pact ev­ery time they ride. So in a busy group like Cotswold it’s im­por­tant to have a range of ponies and horses to choose from.

There’s a lot to take into ac­count, as Eques­trian Man­ager Heather ex­plains.

“It is so im­por­tant that chil­dren have the cor­rect size of pony to en­sure they de­velop their con­fi­dence, bal­ance, feel for how ponies move, abil­ity to con­trol the pony, along with, of course, be­ing safe.

“If a rider is put on a pony that is too wide it can have a detri­men­tal ef­fect on how they sit and the abil­ity to use their legs, and may cause dis­com­fort when lit­tle hips are stretched. A pony that’s too large will have move­ment that is too big, which can be very un­nerv­ing for the rider.

“Cotswold RDA helps around 180 rid­ers, aged be­tween four and eighty, ev­ery week. It’s im­por­tant to be able to of­fer the right size pony to meet ev­ery­one’s in­di­vid­ual needs.

“Tof­fee will be a great ad­di­tion to the team. He is beau­ti­ful, ex­tremely cute, and at just 11.2 hands high he will play an im­por­tant role in help­ing chil­dren be­tween the ages of four and

nine to de­velop their rid­ing skills.”

Tof­fee has all the at­tributes to be­come a firm favourite, but be­fore he can start his work help­ing dis­abled rid­ers he will need to be put through his paces by the Eques­trian Team.

Tof­fee will start his train­ing straight away, and he can look for­ward to meet­ing his new friends as well as get­ting used to his new home.

Heather, Deb­bie and Lou from the Eques­trian Team will be look­ing af­ter him to make sure he set­tles in nicely.

As Yard Man­ager Deb­bie ex­plains, “In the com­ing weeks and months Tof­fee will be put through some im­por­tant tests. For ex­am­ple, ap­proach­ing a mount­ing block can be very dis­con­cert­ing to some ponies.

“Some sim­ply won’t do it no mat­ter how many times we try, so it is ex­tremely im­por­tant that Tof­fee can be brought eas­ily to the mount­ing block for his rider, to al­low them to mount with ease.

“He will also need to be­come fa­mil­iar with his new sur­round­ings, in­clud­ing our new Sen­sory Trail, which has been in­tro­duced to pro­vide rid­ers with new ex­pe­ri­ences.

“Tof­fee will cer­tainly be work­ing hard, but there will still be plenty of time for re­lax­ing.

“All our ponies are made of stern stuff and live out in fields lo­cated close to the school, although we do have a barn they can shel­ter in when needed, but mainly they love be­ing out in the fields, and hav­ing the chance to run around.

“Our fields, where he will spend his re­lax­ing time, run par­al­lel to the Great Western Steam Rail­way, so he’ll need to get used to the steam and whis­tles of the trains that pass close by.

“He re­ally is a lit­tle pop­pet and we are very lucky to have him.”

Next month: Tof­fee’s train­ing be­gins in earnest.

A Royal visit was a great treat.

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