Royal Forest of Dean RDA Carriage Driving
Carriage Driving at RDA
Our Riding for the Disabled (RDA) group enables people with a wide range of disabilities to participate in carriage driving. Depending on ability this ranges from simply having an enjoyable ride as a passenger up to learning to drive a horse and carriage themselves to RDA national competition standard.
Our activities are designed to be fun and aim to provide multiple benefits to improve the health and mental wellbeing of all those taking part.
We operate on two days per week all year round at Chaxhill House, near Westbury-on-Severn. We run two carriages on Tuesday morning for ambulant drivers and two on Thursday mornings for both ambulant drivers and wheelchair users having between 55 – 60 participants each week. Visitors are welcome to attend.
Needless to say, none of this would be possible without our dedicated band of volunteer helpers. Many of them accompany the carriages outdoors on bicycles which they and other supporters kindly donated, probably not what they had in mind when they first joined us!
We currently have three RDA qualified coaches who sit alongside the disabled driver to help, teach and encourage those who are able to learn to drive themselves.
We have three carriage driving horses. Tom is still active but ageing and we also have two younger horses, Lola and Lily, who both successfully passed their RDA assessment.
Our indoor arena is based in a large modern barn which has full height metal doors. When it’s raining and the wind is blowing the area near the doorway becomes rather inhospitable so our landlord kindly built an annexe on the side of the barn. Our volunteers fitted it out with kitchen units donated by a local builder’s merchant and some robust furniture from a redundant Methodist chapel. It now serves as a reception area, café and mini social club.
When the weather is kind we run the carriages outdoors on a track running between fields in an area abundant with wildlife and occasionally in an adjacent field where we set out a dressage course. There is always plenty to interest those who enjoy the ride but perhaps don’t have the capability to drive themselves. When the weather prohibits us going outside we use our indoor arena.
Indoor games on a wet and windy day!
Using the mounting steps to get onto the carriage
If you are interested in volunteering or if you would like to come for a taster drive or know someone who would then please contact us. No experience is necessary to be a volunteer and you don’t even need to love horses. There are lots of ancillary activities and it can be very beneficial to your own health and mental wellbeing. Carriage driving takes place at Chaxhill House, Westbury on Severn GL14 1QP on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
During the first week of October 2019 we held celebrations to mark our own 20th Anniversary and the 50th Anniversary of Riding for the Disabled Association. All clients received a certificate and a medal or rosette and a cake topped with the RDA 50th Anniversary logo.
During the Coronavirus outbreak we are unfortunately unable to offer our sessions. This means we had no income but we still have to pay the rent for our premises and to look after our three horses. We need your help so that we can continue to offer this valuable service. Please support our cause and buy tickets via Forest Lottery.
Our clients pay a fee each time they drive which helps to meet our basic running costs. All other costs have to be met through fund raising activities. These include;
- During 2019 we held three coffee mornings. Two at the Armoury Hall, Newnham and another at our base Chaxhill House. All of which were very successful.
- Due to the coronavirus restrictions we only held one fund raising event in 2020, a coffee morning at the Armoury Hall, Newnham which was very well supported.
- We attend, recruit and make collections at local events.
- One weekend each year we are given the opportunity to man the Rikenel car park in Gloucester and collect the parking fees.
- We make grant applications to cover the cost of major purchases. Both of our wheelchair accessible carriages were paid for with grants from the National Lottery. These carriages have ramps enabling us to load wheelchair users in their own wheelchairs.
- We have been awarded grants by the RDA national body towards the cost of new flooring for the indoor arena and the Saunders Watney Trust towards the cost of Lola’s new harness. Pictures of both are in our gallery below.
- We hold an annual tack sale.
- A number of individuals and organisations have kindly donated goods, services and money.
- We are now registered as a ‘Good Cause’ with the Forest of Dean Lottery. Please buy a Ticket and support us! Just click the link above!
Secretary – Liz Stephens
Charity Number: 1174062
We would like to thank Newhunt Horses and Farm and Country at Elton for providing us with discounted supplies, Court Farm Garage in Littledean for servicing our horsebox, Freedom Embroidery in Highnam for our new clothing and iconnet for creating and sponsoring this website.