Shropshire Star

Pony painting celebrates 50 years in full colour

Six of the most well-behaved, patient ponies, stood still while children and adults painted and hand printed them to mark a 50 year charity celebration.

Kyre Group RDA volunteers with Dusty

‘Party With A Pony’ was organised by the Kyre Group of Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) to mark a half century of helping children to live with a variety of medical conditions and disabilities in the best possible way. The one-day event was attended by nearly 50 local children, parents, carers and RDA volunteers and managed by the Kyre Group RDA coaches; together with support from the national team from RDA National Training Centre in Shrewley, Warwickshire.

Coach - and one of the event organisers - Mandi Boardman, explains: "Dusty, Smokey Joe, Lucky, Andy, Billy and Lily were marvellous when it came to being daubed with paint. They allowed us to colour them up with stencils, brushes and handprints, using a variety of paints and even hoof glitter. More importantly, personal challenges and disabilities could be set aside for a while as children had a brilliant time. The adults had fun, too."

The event was brought to a celebratory close as key team members awarded prizes for ‘Best mane’, Best glittery feet’, Best use of stencils’ and even ‘Best painted bottom’! All participants went home happy with a toy pony gifted by Agria Pet Insurance and a limited edition rosette.

Through a network of over 500 volunteer groups throughout the UK, RDA provides opportunities for therapy, achievement and enjoyment, improving health, wellbeing and self-confidence and benefiting mobility and co-ordination.

National RDA Training Centre Team, judging the children's work

The event at Kyre Group was attended by Doug Smith, National Equine Lead/Coach Developer for RDA UK, who said: "I’ve had a wonderful time at Kyre RDA, judging and presenting prizes at their 'Pony Painting Party'. I was not sure what to expect but was delighted to be a part of something that showed RDA at its’ very best. The concept and execution of the 'pony painting' was very original and imaginative. It was an example of volunteers, participants and their families working together to produce a great afternoon. Grass roots RDA in action."

Lily with glitter hooves and paint

New volunteers are always needed and the giving of time - and a kind nature - are more important than experience of handling or riding horses and ponies. At Kyre RDA, children from Worcestershire, South Shropshire and North Herefordshire, are brought together on most term-time Fridays and Thursdays for riding lessons; the RDA also provides carriage driving experiences for adults.

By Mandi Doyle - Contributor

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