RDA South Wales Region News and Events

If your group has any news or events you wish to share, please contact Sylvia Fowles, secretary@rdasouthwales.org.uk

RDA South Wales Region AGM


Present: Regional Committee members: Julie Humphry (JH joint chair), Joan Lean (JL joint chair), Amanda Say, Emma Thomas, Anneli Jeynes, Rachel Wolverson, Sylvia Fowles.

Representatives from Groups throughout the region: Abergavenny, Bridgend County, Clytha, Clytha Park, Dinas Powis, Green Meadow, Mount Pleasant, Ceffyl Du, Vale of Glamorgan.

1. Apologies: Peter Dean (Treasurer), Abergavenny, Bryngwyn, Heath, Aberystwyth, Carmarthen Carriage Drivers, Dinefwr, North Pembrokeshire & Cardiganshire, Pembrokeshire, United Counties.

2. The minutes of the last AGM 12th April 2018 were agreed and signed as a true record. Proposed Rachel Wolverson. Seconded Emma Thomas.

3. Matters arising: none.


It was proposed at our last AGM that we appointed a President for the South Wales RDA. We have been very fortunate in appointing David Broome as our new President, and his first task was to allow us to utilise his premises, Cricklands for today's AGM, and for delivering our first introduction of the day. He is our National treasure and we are very proud and privileged for him to head our team. Thank you David.

We have continued our trip around Wales but never realised how long this would take. We had an exceptionally good summer which took us down West to the Dinefwr Group where we witnessed a very special little rider called Romeo who despite not being able to support his head or upper body smiled throughout the lesson. We were pleased to see the Group working together providing very structured lessons. On our return journey we took the opportunity of visiting Carmarthen Carriage Drivers where we were very fortunate to observe Carl Ward practise his Hartpury test. Subsequently, we were delighted to see him win first place at Hartpury in July. This is another very industrious group thriving on teamwork and commitment despite their financial constraints.

On our visit to the Heath the riders made the most of a beautiful sunny evening and rode around Pontcanna fields, through the woods and alongside the river, it was an idyllic ride. Clytha Park will probably resonate in our minds as the most beautiful setting of all. Located in an exquisite Park flanked by a huge lake and gardens it's a sublime setting. (We nearly didn't come home). This group epitomised professionalism and went to great lengths to ensure that their riders received a skilful but fun-filled experience. They also do a fine, tasty lunch. Our visit to Green Meadow was a very fortunate one as we went to award Sally Williams - the South Wales Volunteer of the Year award. This was a well-deserved accomplishment as Sally has worked tirelessly for many, many years supporting and actively fund raising for RDA. Congratulations, and WELL DONE Sally. Our final visit of the year was to the Abergavenny group nestling in the beautiful Welsh hills. Once again we were met with a team of very encouraging, motivational and determined coaches and volunteers who strove to ensure their participants made the most of their riding experience.

To date we have had a busy training schedule commencing with a successful Training Day held at Pencoed based on the requirements of the Groups. This was delivered by Emma Thomas and Mike Butcher, and incorporated basic leading and side walking techniques followed by an interactive show jumping Level 1 training session. Emma delivered an in-depth presentation on the Pathway Process which everyone present welcomed. Mike and Emma are shortly due to replicate this training in Carmarthen which will also include a Safeguarding Course in the afternoon. A successful First Aid Training Course was held in Pencoed College and this is also to be repeated by Sandra Fisher in Carmarthen. Our next Training event, the Countryside Challenge Judging Course is to be held at Pencoed College on 29th March.

The Regional Coaches have confirmed that the roll out of the new Coaching Pathway is going well with the first coach reviews utilising the new paperwork being conducted in Usk earlier this year. Both Coaches and Coach Assessors were happy with the process and found it not as daunting as first thought. Emma confirmed that the coaches who attended the Pathway Training Day had a better understanding of the new system.

On 11th February we attended the Regional Chairs' meeting at Aintree and one of the key discussion points was the fact that 2019 is the year of Golden Celebrations as RDA UK has reached 50 years (half a century and still not out) that can't be bad. This is to be celebrated throughout the year but will be officially launched during the opening of the National Training Centre at Lowlands on 12th June.

On 12th July at Hartpury, an RDA Pageant featuring all RDA activities, will be held in the main arena and on 13th July, also at Hartpury, there will be a National Championships Big Tea Party which will include a "Bake Off" style cake baking competition. To coincide with the date of the actual formation of RDA in October 1969, National Office are encouraging all groups to hold their own celebrations and to share their stories and pictures. During a recent South Wales Regional Officer's meeting it was proposed that we undertake 50 hours of riding/driving with rosettes and mugs being presented to all groups involved as a keepsake. We're still at the planning stage but 'Watch this space'

Other matters that were discussed were that the majority of future UK training events and meetings will be held at Lowlands which is to be opened in the Summer, this will reduce the need and ultimately the cost of hiring external venues which can be very expensive. National Office have appointed the services of and HR Group of Consultants to assist groups with such issues as employment law, contact details can be found on the National Office website. You may recall the volunteer survey that was carried out last year, in fact many of you would have been contacted and invited to participate. The results of the Survey were discussed and detailed findings will be published shortly. The new Complaints Procedure and RDA Group Checklist are also available on the National web site.

The Show Jumping and Dressage Qualifiers for Hartpury this year will be held at Coleg Sir Gar on 15th May and the Led Dressage and Countryside Challenge Qualifiers will be held on 29th May at Pencoed College. Good luck to all the participants.

Some of you will be aware that the guiding for adults charity, Trefoil Guild, chose RDA as their charity of the year in 2018 and have been raising money to support the Countryside Challenge at Hartpury. We were asked to attend some of their fundraising events in South Wales to give a presentation about RDA and talk through the Countryside Challenge Course and we found the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable. Gwent Trefoil Guild held a 'Best Dressed Hobby Horse' competition as part of their fundraising and Julie and Emma Thomas from the Bridgend Group attended the event and were amazed at the creativity and craftsmanship that had been put in. In November, two of the ladies from Trefoil Guild visited the Bridgend Group and presented them with the hobby horses.

We have held on to our Regional Secretary for as long as we could, but the time has come to say goodbye to Sylvia Fowles. On behalf of the Regional Committee Sylvia we would like to take this opportunity of sincerely thanking you for all your hard work, dedication and friendship and we wish you well for the future.

Finally, we would both like to take this opportunity of thanking you all for your support over the past 2 years and for the very warm welcome we have received from all those Groups we have visited, and last but not least for the extensive work, commitment and dedication you continuously provide to all your participants, and we wish you well for the coming year.


SOUTH WEST WALES GROUPS: Amanda Say presented the reports

Our Friday term-time sessions continue with six primary school children coming to the riding centre each week. Their school selects the children whom it feels will benefit most from riding, and riders usually come for a period of between two and three terms before others take their places, but sometimes they return for another period when they are older. We have had some interesting challenges recently - last year it was a girl who was frightened of animals (we failed to get her 'aboard') and this year we have a severely disabled child with a rare genetic disorder. She required a new very small helmet and some specially designed tack made by a local saddler. Half of our children are on the autistic spectrum so we were delighted that one of our helpers was able to get a place on an 'autism awareness' day run for teachers by the local authority.
Generous local individuals and organisations continue to support us and with a grant from the Coop Community Fund we produced a leaflet publicising the Group, which we hoped would help to attract more voluntary helpers. Having sorted out the text we commissioned photographs from Grey Feather photography. We needed the pictures to show: enjoyment, concentration, a variety of activities, safe practice, and crucially, the need for many volunteers. Our efforts resulted in the production of a splendid colourful and informative bilingual leaflet to distribute in our catchment area.
We are benefiting from Aberystwyth's University Policy of encouraging volunteering and several students have come to taster sessions. One is already a regular helper and two others will be coming if their lecture timetable permits.
Judith Bray

As 2019 begins my 26th year with Dinefwr Group, I can reflect how 'times have changed' in the way RDA is run and how various safeguards have been put in place over the years. However, the one constant is the benefit we offer to riders who attend our weekly sessions - some long term riders and others on a yearly basis. In our earlier years we had mainly adult riders of various abilities who were generally long term and were able to build a bond with 'their' pony. Today, we have (at the moment) all children who ride with us. Our current selection of ponies makes this a bonus as the larger horses we used in the past have long been retired, leaving us with a selection of smaller ones. Whereas many of the riders of the past came from individual applications, our present day ones are, in the main, from a special unit at a Carmarthen school. This unit deals with children on the autism spectrum (although some have other issues as well). The specialised focus of the teachers who attend with the children, make this a very rewarding occurrence for us as we can often see the progression as pupils attain an understanding of what is required and are able to meet their personal goals.

At our last AGM, we were fortunate to have one of the teachers to give us a talk on autism and how each affected child can react and why. It was a very valuable experience and one we have remembered as we continued throughout the past year.

We hope to be able to continue to support this school and be able to develop a greater understanding ourselves. The subject is a complicated issue and I feel we have bettered ourselves by working long-term with these pupils.
Del Richards (Chair Dinefwr RDA).


Father Christmas visits the Wednesday Pembrokeshire RDA every December to give the children a card and some chocolate money! He also presented Joan Buckingham with her 40 year long service award.
The Wednesday Group were presented with a cheque for £840.00 which was raised by Kat Fenn when she ran the Broadhaven 10k Christmas Pudding sponsored run, dressed as a horse including two ears and a tail! Kat is in black, in the centre of the picture holding the cheque in the Newsletter.
The costume was made by Joan Buckingham, whose husband Mike, also collected sponsorship from Milford Haven Golf Club.
Jo Goldsmith

The group continues to have fun, both riders and volunteers taking part in various activities.
The cardigan boat company, A Bay to Remember, invited all the volunteers for a trip around Cardigan Bay, about a dozen of us went and had a fabulous time, saw loads of dolphins - lots of spray - lots of thrills - thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

Just before Christmas practically all the volunteers, partners and friends, went to Ffoslas Races and this also turned out to be a brilliant day - may well turn into an annual event!

Naturally the riders are our top priority and we work hard to give them the best possible experience in their riding sessions -many of our volunteers go out of their way to be helpful, for instance by learning sign language - we are all getting together with a teacher to learn some basic signs later on this month.

The riders enjoy their riding sessions, for some the endurance riding is the favourite thing, for some taking part in the art competition, or the drill ride to music! Some love the thought of a competition and we are sending two riders to the dressage qualifier at Carmarthen college in May this year. We also hope to send some riders to Pencoed for the Countryside Challenge.

Along with grade tests and endeavour awards we keep ourselves and our riders very busy!
Gini Gristwood

We only started back in March, the weather being too cold and unreliable. The group rides from 12 - 4 at Carmarthen College and we usually have 4 - 6 riders all having a one to one session with Amanda or Donna. The riders have the benefit of being able to ride independently as they all own their own horses/ponies so fortunately through the winter break they have continued to ride. Even so it was good to be back in the school and start serious work for the forthcoming Regional Qualifier. Kerry-Anne is now a student at the college but on our group days Gran brings her lovely horse 'Diffy' in for her to ride. Ryan now has a new horse which is already showing much promise and his brother Rex is riding Alice who had so many admirers at Hartpury last year. Carrie also has a new ride and usually bring two horses in each session.
Di Waghorn


One of the highlights of 2018 was a very successful visit to Hartpury. Carmarthen Carriage Driver
Carl Ward won the Novice Driving Class at the National Championships in July. This was Carl's first time at the Championships, where he drove Penny and Ray Hopkins' lovely coloured Pony, Badger. It was very exciting to watch each of the three phases in the brilliant sunshine, with other members of the region, all cheering Carl and Badger on! The year has been busy with driving sessions and fundraising for the group

MID SOUTH WALES GROUPS: Joan Lean, County Chair

The Heath RDA Group have experienced considerable change during the last year having lost their stalwart in Ruth Tipping, their Chair, and we extend our thanks and gratitude to Ruth for the wealth of skills she brought to the Group. The new officers are striving hard and are working successfully together to ensure that the riders are making good progress and respond well to the dedicated coaches. They have purchased new equipment and the riders enjoy participating in organised games and races in both the indoor and outdoor arena, with some in the dark, which they love. Keep up the good work.

Dinas Powis continue to nurture their riders and this is evidenced by several members achieving their Grades 1, 2 and 3 in Horse Riding and Stable Management. They continue to have fun and enjoyment through games and exercises and hosting a very successful Strawberry Tea fundraiser (I must have missed that one). Note to self for next year. Despite Pat their Chair being unable to attend on a regular basis due to family illness, well done to the core team of volunteers, which are on the increase, and coaches who have ensured the continuity of the Group. Congratulations to your new coaches in training, and well done to you all.

The Vale RDA Group have achieved a successful and enjoyable year of riding filled with interactive lessons designed to stimulate their riders. This year's mantra is attributed to their strap line of "Our horses and ponies are our most important volunteers and without them our RDA wouldn't exist", said Lynne Mordecai their Group Coach. A sentiment I am certain applies to us all. Two of their ponies have Long Service Awards delivering over 16 years service each and long may they continue. Congratulations to Clare Roberts who was appointed Mid South Wales County Coach. Well done to you all and keep up the good work.

Green Meadow have experienced a very busy year, supported by a dedicated group of volunteers, and they continue to deliver a large number of weekly innovative RDA sessions. The highlight of their year was holding the Summer Fun Day involving all Groups in games on and off the ponies. Coupled with this they held a successful nature walk in the woods of the beautiful Dare Valley Country Park. Julie and I were fortunate to be able to visit the Group to award Sally Williams, RDA Secretary with the South Wales Volunteer of the Year Award, a well-deserved award to an exceptional lady. Congratulations Sally and to the team as a whole.

Despite experiencing the after effects of the "Beast from the East", Mount Pleasant only missed 2 riding sessions. They are a very progressive Group and this is evidenced by the large number of proficiency certificates awarded. One of their members achieved her YELA Bronze, and is also working towards her YELA Silver. Well done Alex. They also held a "Most Improved Rider Competition which I think is a very aspirational activity, and which demonstrates their drive for success. Well done to you all.

Bridgend County have seen an influx of new volunteers which is a plus and demonstrates that the Group is striving to successfully evolve. A number of riders received a variety of awards in Riding and Stable Management, and one rider in particular who is visually impaired with learning difficulties achieved his Level 1 in both disciplines and is working towards his Level 2. The icing on the cake was the Hartpury Championships with 7 riders competing in 3 disciplines, resulting in 4 1st place rosettes, one 2nd, one 3rd with every rider improving their mark achieved in their qualifiers. An excellent result and testament to all the brow beating they received from Emma and the coaches (I'm only joking, don't quote me on that) but it paid off.
Bridgend have also had a very successful fund raising year and that is due in the main to the Fund Raising Committee who have increased their activities and floated many new ideas to raise funds through a very prestigious curry night with a 22-piece band, a Bottle in a Bag which raises a very worthy contribution, and having been nominated as Sainsbury's, Charity of the Year for 2018/19, which has resulted in numerous bag packing weekends. Well done to everyone concerned as it is an integral part of the success of the Group, and long may you continue.
That only leaves me to extend to you all a Big Thank You for your commitment, hard work and dedication to your groups, your participants, and your volunteers, and thank you for your continued support and your friendship.

SOUTH EAST WALES GROUPS: Rachel Wolverson, County Chair

Here at Bryngwyn RDA Group we have continued to be really busy. Looking back over the last year there were a number of highlights in what was our 6th year of operation.

In May we were really excited to take on a new horse called Joseph, a lovely gentle, coloured cob, he has settled well to life in the hills and has really broadened the number of riders we can accommodate due to his size and placid nature. In July we had our bi-annual open day, including an interactive ridden performance of Sugarlump and the Unicorn which our riders took part in; our RDA ponies proved yet again there isn't much they can't turn their hooves to. One of the main highlights of 2018 was qualifying for the Nationals in the Countryside Challenge, something we had previously only dreamt about. It meant so much to all of us, but especially to our rider to come 6th on the Sunday, she stayed amazingly calm despite the heat. We were overwhelmed by the help and support given to us before and during the competition, and would really encourage anyone who is not sure to give it a go. We have already vaccinated more ponies ready for this year - look out for Bryngwyn on tour at the Regionals this year.

Of course none of this would be possible without the support of the team at Bryngwyn Riding Centre caring for the equines that we use with such skill. Our volunteer team also continue to provide their time and energy with such enthusiasm, growing in number and expertise. One of the team, Sarah, has recently been assessed to coach and is now the proud holder of her pink certificate. At the end of the year we were over the moon to receive £6,722 from the Co-operative Stores Community Dividend Fund. This was more than we ever thought and will enable us to continue to grow and develop into 2019.

We have had another good year with the Usk division competing again at the National Championships and the Clytha Park division doing a sponsored ride to raise awareness and funds. Everyone had a great time. Clytha Park have also embarked on the Tracker Scheme.

On a less good note Usk are struggling with numbers of horses and are now down to only 3 and losing 1 of those at the end of the Summer term. Unless a solution is found they are facing closure.

Ceffyl Du Driving Group are continuing to be a very active group with a number of drivers.

We have had another year of riding with no highs or lows so I guess that is good. We have not yet returned after our winter break but look forward to the better weather now.


South West County Chair: Vacant.
Regional Secretary: Vacant (The Regional Chairs will continue to cover this role themselves.)
Regional Treasurer: Peter Dean
Regional Publicity Officer: Amanda Say.
Regional Dressage Rep: Di Waghorn and Amanda Say
Regional Participation Rep: Amanda Say
Regional Coach: Anneli Jeynes, Mike Butcher and Emma Thomas
Regional Driving Rep: Rowena Moyes
Regional Equine Advisor: Rachel Wolverson
Regional Physio: Lynne Munro
Regional Show jumping Rep: Mike Butcher
New Group Liaison Officer: Rachel Wolverson

7. AOB

Visual Training Information
Some groups were having problems finding appropriate books, photos etc to assist non-riders with
identifying colours and markings of horses and asked whether National Office had anything suitable.

JH informed the meeting that NO have published new Grading Assessment sheets which include horse
colours and markings and can be obtained free of charge from the Group Orders Page on the RDA
Website www.myrda.org.uk

The Regional Newsletter: was distributed to all Groups.


Following the meeting:

David Broome welcomed everyone to Cricklands and said he was pleased to support RDA which gives so much pleasure to so many people. He went on to give a very interesting and entertaining synopsis of his long and successful career which kept everyone enthralled and at times amused.

David then continued by presenting the following awards,

JO PRINGLE Award: Bryngwyn Group

SUE JOHNS POWELL Award: Claire Griffiths, Bridgend County Group

15 years - Emma Thomas, Bridgend County Group
25 years - Delphine Richards, Dinefwr Group
30 Years - Rachel Wolverson, Clytha Group


Afternoon Session

Ann Birch, Speech and Language Therapist

Lynne Munro, RDA Physiotherapist

James Broome, Demonstration from Riding to Driving

Round up by Regional Chairs