Sam’s Big Ride Update: South Wales and South West

South West Region
Forde Abbey, Somerset on Tuesday 1 August
Exciting to arrive at this beautiful venue for the first carriage driving as part of the Big Ride project. RDA regional chairman Sue Ingleby and others were busy equipping an RDA tent with refreshments. Jenny Pennell carriage driving rep over saw the harnessing of 3 ponies to carriages in pouring rain as we all put on our waterproofs. As soon as the two RDA carriage drivers Linda and Denise arrived the sun appeared and thankfully shone all day. Three carriages with three RDA volunteers supporting on bikes and a car follower set off as a team through the stunning garden past Forde Abbey – what a view!
8 km later Linda, who drives from her wheelchair and whose CV includes having taught RDA riders as an BHSAI at one of RDA’s earliest groups and a stint of stunt riding in New Zealand, explained how much RDA carriage driving means to her: ‘It gives me the freedom to be out in the open and do something positive since my accident and the chance to be back with the ponies I love’. I had the interesting experience of being in a carriage driven by Judi and pulled by a lovely grey Dartmoor pony Demi. Demi has nearly completed his RDA training and it was great to see his pricked ears as he steadily navigated the narrow, high banked lanes and hills.
Lunch was a fun and chatty occasion with RDA supporters and Forde Abbey Carriage Driving Group overlapping with Chard and District RDA Group ready for riding in the afternoon. Two young RDA riders from this group completed 1.5 and 2km each, with many helpers walking alongside in support. William and Chloe were delighted with their rosettes and Big Ride certificates.
The day was capped off by a longer ride of 5km. RDA volunteer Greta kindly brought in two of her lovely hunters for Sam and Greta to ride over the hill and back, to finish off an active day with a very positive group of people.

South Wales

Green Meadow Riding Centre on Friday 4 August
The Big Ride received an enthusiastic welcome from Judith England and her brilliant team at her Green Meadow Riding Centre. This is a pretty special location in Dare Valley Country Park built on a reclaimed slag heap in 1976, with welsh hills on one side and the ex-mining town of Aberdare on the other.
A large group of people gathered to put on a special Big Ride day with a welsh twist. RDA riders, volunteers and ponies came from Green Meadow, Bridgend and Mount Pleasant Groups and all three regional chairmen were there to help. There was a real community effort on fundraising and RDA riders proudly produced their sponsorship forms at the start of the day. Our pre ride photos starred a welsh lady in traditional costume, welsh mascot toy pony and a big cheque for £1,500 raised by this event! With a bit of shepherding from Judith and regional coach Mike Butcher (who fundraised £350 with a fancy dress and raffle) we were ready. There was a tremendous team spirit as 10 RDA riders helped by 21 volunteers on foot and a dozen volunteers on horses set off together!
The RDA riders completed a 2km ride through the country park, before returning to rosettes, lunch, face painting and fun! The longer ride of a good 25km saw us climb to 446m for tremendous views across the welsh hills. This beautiful ride was virtually all off road. We rode through woodland with lunch provided under beech trees, where we sheltered from a brief shower. The wonderful ponies were sure footed up and down steep tracks and clearly enjoyed the ride including a couple of good spins. The end of the ride took us along an old coal railway line between ex miners’ houses. It was a chatty four hour ride and my favourite overheard question ‘Do you have a chicken called Darcy’……the answer yes and we all learnt quite a bit about hens!
This day gave a real boost to the Big Ride cumulative totals and it looks like we need to revise our 1000 km target upwards!

Sponsor Sam at: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/samorde

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Big Ride RDA UK events so far 9
RDA riders/vaulters/carriage drivers 64
volunteers & supporters riding/carriage driving 46
volunteers walking 88
Big Ride Total km with ponies 837 km
Distance by volunteers on foot 231 km
Big Ride events to go 12
Page Last Updated: August 18, 2017