I started volunteering with RDA (riding for the disabled) about a year ago. I’m currently at university and usually only have classes 3 or 4 days a week so it fits in really well, it breaks my week up and gives me something different from school and studying and gives me more time with horses. So this is my day!
7:30- get up, ok it was 7:45 I hit snooze twice. Made toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch. Got dressed, which admittedly took longer than usual because I couldn’t find any boot socks, I swear they’re like bobby pins I have hundreds but they seem to disappear when I need them! Put my water bottle and lunch in my riding bag which all ready has everything else I need in it (see).
8:30- Got in the car and drove to RDA, it usually takes about 30 minutes and the traffic wasn’t to bad.
9- Signed in, dumped my bag, said hi to everyone.
Grabbed the halters for the horses and lead ropes and walked to the paddocks. We have four paddocks plus a pony paddock, now of course all the horses had to be right at the back of the paddocks, to make things easier we bring all the horses we need up to the stalls and put the rest in the closest paddock so we can switch them around without having to walk out to the back paddocks.
Grooming was a nightmare today even the horses with rugs on were all covered in mud, we had six horses in the first and second lessons so they all had to be groomed and tacked up. By the time we’ve got all the horses we need and moved the ones we don’t, groomed and tacked up it usually takes about an hour.
10- We lead the horses being used into the arena and start helping the riders on. All the riders come with a support worker but some need a side walker (someone to walk at their side and hold their leg for stability) so I lead Kappa and his rider in the lesson. Because all the riders have different levels of ability lessons are mainly just skills like stopping, turning and some games like walking races and pole bending. Once the lessons over we help the riders dismount and switch the horses.
11- I wasn’t needed for the second lesson as a leader so I just helped the riders get on. We untacked the horses from the first lesson and gave them all a brush, put tack away and generally cleaned up. I mucked all the stalls that needed it, swept the tack room
12- The riders from the first lesson make up the feeds for the horses but we add supplements for the horses that need them, RDA horses have to be bombproof and very mellow so many of them are older and have retired from other more taxing careers. The horses that get supplements get fed in their stalls and so do the ones still needed in the afternoon lesson and the rest eat in the paddocks.
1ish- Once all the horses are happy and eating we stop for lunch, have a chat and work out what stil needs to be done for the rest of the day.
1:30- We had a hay delivery, it’s been a really bad year for hay, we usually get the big round rolls for the horses paddock but they are really hard to get at the moment so we got a big delivery of little rectangle bales that had to be unloaded and stacked in the feed room. We then took the quad bike and trailer to take the rest down to the horse paddocks.
2ish- Once the horses have finished eating (Rory always takes longer than the rest because he’s old and missing some teeth) we collect all the buckets and wash them all out, this took ages because the hay man ran over the hose nozzle with his truck so we had to wash each one under the tap.
3- Take the horses we don’t need back and groomed and got out tack for the remaining horses.
3:30- We recently lost two of our ponies, whose owner has moved them to another property and while Ruby was going to be used in the afternoon lesson Matti wasn’t. Matti lost his best friend and isn’t used to being on his own in the paddock so I gave him a good brush and lunged him for a bit. After I was done Jessica one of the other volunteers thought he needed to have his mane plaited.
4- I wasn’t needed for the last lesson as a leader so after I helped the riders get on I went for a ride on Rambo (a beautiful blood bay standardbred) it’s nice for the RDA horses to have an ablebodied rider every now and then just for something different and keep them fit and healthy. He was really good, he got a bit fresh when I was out on the cross country but other than that it was a nice ride.
5- We untacked all the horses, groomed them, put all the tack away, put rugs on, tidied up the arena, put all the horses back into the right paddocks, cleaned the stalls, hung hay nets in the pony paddock, and locked up.
5:45- Drove home, I hate driving at night which makes winter a bit annoying but it was the most glorious day not to hot, not to cold but just right!
I strongly recommend anyone with some extra time to think about volunteering with a local organisation. Not only does it help give back to the community but it is extremely rewarding, I have learnt so much and met so many amazing people.