More people with disabilities near Ovingham and Morpeth are saddling up for horse riding therapy thanks to a donation from SOS Group.
The Newcastle and District Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) Group, based at Mount Huly and Throphill, is run by volunteers and holds sessions each week for around 25 riders.
The £300 donation from Team Valley-based copy, print and scan management company, SOS Group, will help the group continue its valuable work and will fund new games, jumping equipment and tack.
As well as being very enjoyable, horse riding therapy helps improve fitness and posture and builds confidence and self-esteem.
Avril Lomas, Group Chair and Coach at Newcastle and District RDA Group, says: “Horse riding can be hugely beneficial for anyone. Simply being more active reduces anxiety and improves our physical health, and spending time with animals can really lift our mood.
“For people with disabilities, it can be even more beneficial and we can use the movement of the horse to achieve a specific response in a rider.
“There are direct physical benefits from therapeutic riding and it can significantly help improve balance and motor skills, while the warmth and movement of the horse is transmitted through the rider’s body, gradually making it more relaxed and supple.
“Riding can also have huge psychological benefits because of the increased freedom of movement it provides for people who may not have that sense of control in their daily lives. This is especially true for visually impaired riders and people with disabilities which impede movement.”
The Newcastle and District RDA Group was formed in 2004 and is based at two sites, Mount Huly, near Ovingham, and Throphill, near Morpeth.
Formerly the Hadrian RDA Group based at Hadrian School (what was Pendower Hall School), the group’s future was threatened when funding was no longer available through the local education authority. A dedicated group of volunteers and fundraisers kept the group going under the new name of Newcastle and District RDA Group.
One pony, Rusty, is owned by the group and the other four horses and ponies are on loan to them.
SOS Group also supports the RDA nationally and is an official partner of the National Championships, which is held in Hartpury, near Gloucester annually.
Andrew Skelton, director at SOS Group, says: “We’ve supported the Riding for the Disabled Association nationally for three years now and we know very well what a difference riding can make to people with disabilities.
“Horse riding is therapeutic in many ways and also provides an opportunity to compete and to make friends. It offers a chance to take control and make decisions as well as interacting with these beautiful animals.
“We’re very proud to help support a local RDA group and it’s a great pleasure to see the smiles on the faces of the riders here.”
Launched in 2002, SOS Group’s services include document management, scanning, cost consultation, managed print services and supplying and maintaining leading brand digital office equipment.
The firm also recently launched its DDB Workspace Solutions Division to supply a range of furniture that helps tackle common issues including posture and lack of space. It features technology that can provide individual heating options, improving workplace comfort and reducing energy costs.
RDA Groups across the North East are currently looking for more volunteers to help them continue their work. Experience is not necessary and full training will be given.
For more information about Riding for the Disabled Association and to find a local Group please visit www.rda.org.uk.