A friend of mine introduced me to the Riverside RDA group when Daniel was nearly 4, and ever since he has been a regular there every Saturday morning. He started on a small pony, Shandy, being held up on either side by 2 volunteers, and 4 years later we are now loaning an RDA pony called Misty, who he rides each week. Each week on a Saturday during his RDA lesson he sits proudly on Misty, playing i-spy and singing songs as we walk up and down the tracks the group use.
Over the last 18 months that we have loaned Misty, Daniel has forged a bond with her, she will stand calmly next to him, waiting for him to be ready, and he rewards her with a carrot or apple each week. She doesn’t blink an eye when he pulls her reins or tries to throw them over her head. When she snorts during his rides he used to put his fingers in his ears, but we are now teaching him to snort back and she sometimes replies, which makes him smile.
Daniel likes routine in his life, and since he first started riding he has got on outside the school. So when he got too heavy to lift on, we had to work on how to get him on safely. Misty has been patient with him as we worked out the best way for him to mount. He wouldn't go into the school to go on the mounting block, and quite often would just sit on the floor, until we lifted him on. Last weekend he went to Misty's stable with me said “follow me” to her, took her lead rope off me and lead her to the mounting block and got on, putting his left foot in the stirrup and his leg over her back.
Over this year we will be working with Misty to increase the length of Daniels rides on a Sunday, when we go out as a family, with me leading, and his dad and sister sidewalking. Daniel has enjoyed the Endurance scheme, as he currently won’t do more than 10 minutes in the school during his lesson.