04 June 2020

As all of the Group's Horeses have now beeen 'profilied', we now turn to our wonderful volunteers.............


How long have you been a Group Volunteer?     Started 1994 so 25 years

Why did you volunteer?

I rode peoples ponies as a child, went on to get married and had children of my own and when the youngest went to school, I had spare time again! Started helping Johanna Wright at Buskin where she had children from Duns Primary School and Berwickshire High School on a Thursday morning. The bonus was I got to ride afterwards.  I really enjoyed helping these children.   The real answer is to the question is my love of horses.

What is your favorite horse / horses?

Got to say my favorite was a pony called Dexter, a 14.1 hh Strawberry roan, a very naughty pony but perfect with RDA and I have also got to really like Pitu as he has shown / taught me so much about lunging.

What you enjoy most about being a helper?

It’s the little things that I enjoy, like that breakthrough moment, when the rider/vaulter actually gets what you are trying to teach, and just does it.

What is the best thing you have done with RDA?

Best thing I have done….gosh that’s a hard one. I suppose getting to meet the Princess Royal three times must be up there.

How you are dealing with lock down?

Lockdown hasn’t been easy, although I have been working some of it. Not seeing my Mum was hard, at least I got to wave at the Grandkids in their garden. Having my Husband at home for 9 weeks, 24/7 wasn’t easy either, especially as we couldn’t go away for days out.

Having my dogs was a godsend though, they are looking like Whippets now, sadly I’m not LOL



How long have you been a Volunteer? Margaret tells me I began in 1997

Why did you volunteer?  because Margaret asked me! This was back “in the old days” when we worked outside. It was very weather dependant, the riders were sitting on a bench in the field waiting for their turn. Margaret would often phone round all the helpers on a Wednesday morning and say we would have to cancel because it was raining!


Who is your Favorite horse / horses? It is impossible to have a favourite. There have been lots of different horses and ponies over the years. We are very lucky as a group to work with quality horses who all do other jobs too which I am sure keeps them happy. It never ceases to impress me how well they handle their RDA work.


What do you enjoy most about being a helper? I always go home after an RDA session in a better place than when I arrive…it is very rewarding seeing riders progress in confidence and do things on a horse that they perhaps thought they would not be able to do. And the riders love it, you can see that as soon as they are mounted. You also see volunteers grow in confidence too.


What is the best thing you have done with RDA? I can’t immediately think of an answer to this, but one of the worst (funny now) times was at a dressage competition at The Drum one May when Guinness, who was having a graze, decided he wanted to join his mates and dragged me about 200 yards towards the arenas at some speed. Massive relief when he stopped and I still was holding on to him and we hadn’t caused mayhem!


How are you dealing with lockdown? I can honestly say I have enjoyed it. We spend our lives rushing around and it has been great to slow down a bit and I have spent the time working from home, gardening and cycling. My dog is loving it too though this may all change when our lives are turned upside-down shortly with the arrival of a puppy….





How long have you been a Volunteer:  20 years

Why did you volunteer: Love of horses and Johanna Wright encouraged me to join the group

Who is your Favorite horse / horses:  Bart Simpson

What do you enjoy most about being a helper: The satisfaction of working with horses and the pleasure it can give some riders

What is the best thing you have done with RDA: Meeting Princess Anne (twice_ and winning the RDA Volunteer of the Year award but most of all working with my partner in crime, Alice


How are you dealing with lockdown:  Picked up my cross stitch that I started in 1981 (21st present) aim to finish it this year.  Got a great tan so far!



How long have you been a Volunteer  Since 1998


Why did you volunteer

 My neighbour, a helper had asked my daughter Ann to help out with Joanna Wrights group. When Ann moved to take up her job, Susan persuaded me to help – just for three weeks!  Although Ann had owned a pony for a couple of years, I had little to do with him, being a townie.

Who is your Favorite horse / horses

As “my” group was primary aged, the animals were smaller than the horses of today.  Baloo was with us for many years and Delicat was a gentleman.

What do you enjoy most about being a helper

I like to see the riders getting pleasure from their rides but it is also exercise for me and its great meeting the other helpers weekly.

What is the best thing you have done with RDA

All the preparations for the official opening of the arena by Princess Anne followed by the big day.

How are you dealing with lockdown

As a retiree, it hasn’t felt that different. With the great weather I have been working in the garden very happily.  We have learnt to slow down even more than usual and shop on line. 



How long have you been a Volunteer

Since 2002 as the Group is now but I also volunteered before the indoor arena when we rode at Ann & Eric Robertson’s, in Duns during the summer and in the winter at the indoor school at Westruther.

Why did you volunteer

After talking to the late Ann Robertson one day she asked if I had some spare time and would I like to help with RDA which I did, then stopped for some years when my boys were small.

Who is your favorite horse / horses

I cant really name a favorite horse as there have been a lot of special horses and ponies over the years.

What do you enjoy most about being a helper

One thing springs to mind was when a rider asked Caffrys to  “ walk on”, it had taken nearly a year.

What is the best thing you have done with RDA

The best thing I have done with RDA has to be meeting Princess Anne

How are you dealing with Lock Down

Each day seems to be very much the same

I do miss seeing my grandchildren

Now I have got the hang of it I am getting quite good at shopping on line

My dogs are getting a lot longer walks which has its advantages as I have lost weight



How long have you been a volunteer - Can't quite remember – more than 15, less than 20 years. (An old friend who retired from riding a few years ago came to visit and expressed astonishment that I am still here!)

Why did you volunteer?  Margaret asked me. I was having a rare de-clutter and took along some tack which had belonged to my (long deceased) shepherding pony. Most of it probably wasn't much use but I became a volunteer.

Favourite Horse – I love all the horses. Delicat was a particular favourite as he was so easy to be with. At the moment it is Rio.

What do you enjoy most?  I enjoy being with the horses and really miss them. I wil even forgive Rio for rolling when he is tied up,  when we get back to regular riding.

What is the best thing you have done? (does this mean 'good est' or most enjoyable?) I think what I have most enjoyed are the training days over at (Glasgow) Ingliston where we see experts demonstrating all aspects of RDA – dressage, vaulting, driving, western-style riding are a few I can think of.

How are you dealing with Lockdown? Brushing my hair and becoming a Domestic Goddess in between getting the garden under control (still work in progress). The house isn't any tidier  because the weather was too sunny during the first enthusiastic weeks.



How long have you been a Volunteer:  Since 1999

Why did you volunteer:  my neighbour, who was a volunteer, asked if I would help out as the Group was short of helpers.

Who is your Favorite horse / horses:  My absolute favourite horse has to be Big Guinness, but I have loved lots of them: Royal Dalton, Buster, Jay, Bart…..I could go on!

What do you enjoy most about being a helper: I enjoy working with our riders and vaulters, helping them achieve things they didn’t dream they were capable of.  Seeing the joy of a child cantering on the back of a big horse.

What is the best thing you have done with RDA:  I think going to the National Championships with the vaulting team has to be up there.  It is such an inspiring event to witness the efforts of so many talented riders and vaulters from all over the country.

How are you dealing with lockdown:  I have to say that it’s pretty much business as usual here, working on the farm.  For the first few weeks, we were lambing, which means a constant focus on sheep, with little time for anything else.  We self-isolate as a consequence of lambing every year!  We are lucky that one son lives and works on the farm, and another happened to be here at the time of lockdown, so has stayed to work from home here.  So I am surrounded by nearly all my immediate family which is lovely.  I do miss my twice weekly trips out with my Mum, though I am able to see her and have a conversation through a window, from a safe distance.



How long have you been a Volunteer  Since 2002

Why did you volunteer   I had stopped working having sold the family business, our three children were all at school, so I had more time.

Who is your Favorite horse / horses  We have been very lucky to have wonderful horses over the years; going back Melody, and I always had a soft spot for Caffrys ( even if he did have a mind of his own at times), but Housten is my favorite, I have always enjoyed working with him.

What do you enjoy most about being a helper  Seeing a rider achieve something they never thought possible, the contact with the other volunteers and the horses.

What is the best thing you have done with RDA  This is a hard one, the Royal visits are memorable, the day “Sandy “ arrived-I didn’t think he would be so big; but it’s the days I drive home on a Wednesday morning, thinking, that was a really fun lesson and the riders did really well.

How are you dealing with lockdown  At the beginning many tasks – that I never seem to have time to do, got done! The garden is very tidy. But as time goes on I’m becoming more frustrated and miss my usual routine.


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