The Morpeth RDA Group at the Pegasus Centre RDA offers a wide range of different activities and equestrian disciplines for people with disabilities to try.
As well as learning to ride a horse, children and adults with disabilities can also try their hand at dressage and show-jumping, they can take part in local, regional and even national competitions, and they can learn about pony care.
Thanks to our partnership with Active Northumberland, there are also opportunities to take part in other outdoor pursuits such as archery and orienteering.
All these activities have therapeutic benefits, help to develop skills and – of course – are great fun!
Dressage literally means training. It is about showing that a rider can train a horse or pony to do what they want them to do, when they want them to do it.
In a dressage test the rider and their pony have to follow a set of instructions and perform different manoeuvres in a specially set out dressage arena.
In a competition a judge marks the test. They give riders marks for how well they and their horse carry out each instruction. At the end of the competition the marks are added up and the winner is the horse and rider with the highest score.
Riders with the RDA do the basics of dressage without even realizing it, just by getting the horse or pony to do the things they want them to do in lessons.
Once riders have gained experience and confidence in riding they may want to take part in a dressage competition – and at the Pegasus Centre we provide plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Showjumping was introduced by the RDA in 2011 and is now well established as a core discipline in many RDA Groups throughout the UK, including the Morpeth RDA Group at the Pegasus Centre.
Showjumping involves riding around a set course negotiating a series of jumps. The courses are made up of coloured fences with poles which can be easily knocked down if they are hit.
Within RDA activities showjumping has a particular focus on developing effective technique, rather than focusing on speed.
There are three levels of showjumping at RDA ranging from carefully navigating a course of poles on the ground at level 1 to working independently at canter over jumps of 60cm, including a cross pole at level 3.
Riders will learn all about how to negotiate a course and will most probably begin with the poles on the floor. Once they have the hang of this they will learn about the jumping position and then may begin to make small jumps progressing through the levels as they go.
In showjumping competitions there are usually two rounds. In the first round the aim is to complete the course without knocking any of the fences down, if this happens riders will receive a fault for every fence knocked down. They will also get a fault if their horse or pony stops at a fence (refuses) or runs around a fence (run out).
Riders who manage to jump a clear round will go through to the jump-off. This is a shortened course which riders have to get round as fast as they can, without making mistakes, as it is timed.
The winner of a course will have the least faults and the fastest time in the jump-off.