Coleraine Probus Club learn about Riding for the Disabled

Albert Clyde paid a recent visit to the Coleraine Probus club to tell the members something about the Riding for the Disabled charity and their Coleraine centre in Castleroe.

The RDA was established locally in 1975 at “Sunlea”, a property owned by Robert Irwin who was manager of Ballyrashane Creamery. Local businessman Cyril Lee was also an enthusiastic supporter, helping with provision of recreational and therapeutic riding, as well as sporting opportunities, for people with a disability living in the Coleraine area.

After 30+ years of gradually expanding use, and given the opportunity to bid for charitable funding, Albert outlined the intricate pathway that had to be followed when planning for the provision of the new centre. Costing £1.25 million, the new high quality building was opened in September 2009. This gave children from local schools the opportunity to use the facilities on weekdays, as well as children and parents on Saturdays.

Like most voluntary organisations, volunteers are key to the success of the club. For a disabled person on horseback, three volunteers are usually required. With six horses operating in each session, eighteen helpers are required. The Centre encourages young people to fully extend their abilities, having riders competing annually in the RDA National Championships, as well as the Paralympics and other special Olympic events. In 2011 one rider was selected as a member of the Irish Equestrian Team, and succeeded in achieving Gold, Silver and Bronze Equestrian Medals.

The RDA in Coleraine is affiliated to the National Association, which operates throughout the UK, and which oversees operating standards. The horses tend to be older, and are initially donated on a three month trial basis. The mission of RDA Coleraine is to aid the personal development of riders.

Working with horses is well documented to aid physical, mental, social and emotional developments. Albert’s talk clearly demonstrated just how true that is, and how it has helped to encourage many local riders to develop their skills and become local Sporting Olympians of whom everyone can be proud.