12 May 2020Update following Government Guidelines

Following the government’s announcement on Sunday, RDA has briefed its groups around the UK to remain closed. Due to the specific nature of the risk for our clinically vulnerable participants, and the impossible challenge of meeting social distancing requirements in almost all cases, we are advising no change to our current position.
We do expect more information in the coming days about the relaxation of rules around sports and physical activity, and will of course update our advice if necessary, but the safety of our participants and volunteers remains a priority at all times.

We have a team working specifically on preparing our groups for a return to activity as and when the time is right. The timing and manner of that return will vary greatly across the organisation, and we are working with our groups to understand the various challenges they will face in the coming weeks and months so we can give them the support they need.
We know the continued closure of our groups is affecting everyone involved in RDA, not least our participants and their families. We are looking forward to resuming activity as soon as possible – but not before it is safe to do so.

05 May 2020RDA UK CEO Ed Bracher Webinar

Please click the link below to view Ed Bracher's webinar.

RDA UK CEO Ed Bracher

16 April 2020COVID-19 and EQUINES  

COVID-19 and EQUINES                                                                                                                                                                                                    




Can equines get Coronavirus?

There is currently no evidence that equines can catch COVID-19 or become ill from the virus from any of the countries with active outbreaks. There is also no evidence that equines can catch the virus and shed it into the environment without showing symptoms. There is no indication that this will change however if it does we will issue new advice.


Can I get coronavirus from handling an equine?

As above, there is no evidence that equines can catch and transmit COVID-19. It is however possible that if somebody infected with COVID-19 handled an equine and its equipment they could leave droplets of the virus on the equine or its equipment and stable surfaces which could be passed to the next person who handled the equine, equipment or same areas.


For this reason we advise careful thought about management regimes to ensure contact between people is kept to a minimum and the use of shared equipment and surfaces is minimised. We have created a document giving guidance on the creation of a basic regime which can be found on the RDA website (https://www.myrda.org.uk/assets/CORONAVIRUS-EMERGENCY-PLANNING-FOR-EQUINES-March-2020-V1-PDF.pdf). You could consider wearing waterproofs which can be washed down with disinfectant after caring for equines to minimise spread from human-equine-human and wearing gloves.


Should I keep my appointment for the equine’s routine vaccinations or other routine appointments?

Human health must always take priority over routine animal healthcare appointments. Therefore, in line with Government and the British Equine Veterinary Association advice and guidelines, the following must be followed:-


Vets will mainly be providing a 24-hour emergency service for equine patients requiring urgent attention.  

From the 14th April vets will also be permitted to see conditions that would pose a real, and not nominal, threat to a horse's welfare if it was not addressed within the next two months.

Vets will have to perform an individual risk assessment to determine whether an examination can be safely performed.

Routine procedures, including pre-purchase examinations, routine dentistry, routine health checks, poor performance / mild lameness examinations, etc. should be stopped immediately

Telephone / video consultations should be used when feasible.

For cases where physical examinations are absolutely necessary (i.e. for ill and injured patients), your vet will make contact prior to any appointment to ask you whether you are currently free of COVID 19 symptoms.   Please do not attend the appointment but arrange for an alternative handler if you are experiencing symptoms. 

Social distancing (i.e. at least 2 metres between people) should be practised during vet visits however there may be situations in an emergency where your vet is forced to reduce this distance


Should a vet visit be unavoidable, the following control measures should be in place:-

No handshake when the vet arrives at your group

Maintaining a distance of 2 metres between you and the vet where possible

Handwashing before, during and after the appointment

Only one handler at the appointment

The passport may be signed at a later date or with your vet wearing gloves



If your equine is due a 6 monthly booster then you must reduce your equine to 12 monthly boosters as per RDA Group Vaccination Policy. There are 3 reasons for this;


      Firstly it reduces strain on veterinary services allowing them to focus on urgent and emergency cases

      Secondly it reduces your non-essential social contact by not having to have an appointment

      Thirdly equines will be moving around much less during the pandemic therefore the risk of contracting equine influenza is reduced


If your equine is due an annual influenza booster (12 monthly) then contact your local vet to discuss this situation. Following a risk assessment, some vets may feel that they can safely vaccinate horses, but some may deem that the risk to human health outweighs the welfare risk of the disease to the horse. In the current “lockdown” period, with no competitions taking place, the risk of equine influenza epidemic is considered to be low. In addition, the heightened vaccination levels carried out in 2019 should have resulted in an elevation of the herd immunity. Symptoms of influenza infection in horses who have gone over the yearly vaccination date but who have been previously been vaccinated will typically be very mild. All other equine vaccines, such as tetanus, equine herpesvirus and rotavirus vaccines, are to be considered by veterinary surgeons on a case-by-case basis.


What should I do about the farrier?

You should maintain routine farriery appointments at the current time to safeguard the immediate and long term welfare of your equines however there may be some variation in the type of farriery your equines receive. Please consult with your own farrier to decide the most appropriate course of action.

Unshod equines with good feet could have extended shoeing cycles or miss a trim if required

Equines with poor feet will require ongoing routine farriery to safeguard their welfare

Shod equines should receive routine farriery to safeguard their immediate and long term welfare

Removal of shoes can be considered but we would advise you consult your own farrier about each individual equine to ensure this is the best course of action

When your farrier visits you should make sure your equine is tied up with handlers at an appropriate distance with the equine wearing clean equipment.


We have produced additional guidance for farriery which can be found on the MyRDA website.


Should I get my equines teeth done?

Routine dental care is essential for the good welfare of RDA equines. However we would advise that you postpone routine dentistry for your equines at this time. The reason for this is that performing dental procedures on equines necessitates the vet/EDT and the handler standing in close proximity for more than 15 minutes. If your equine is displaying signs of significant oral pain then you should consult your veterinary surgeon who will risk assess the situation and make a decision based on a risk/welfare analysis. 


What should I do if there is a veterinary emergency?

You should contact your veterinary surgeon via your usual phone numbers if you have an emergency involving one of your equines. Be prepared for them to ask a few, basic questions about your health before they arrive, this will help ensure that your equine gets the help it needs without putting yourself or the vet in any increased risk of catching COVID-19. Be aware that veterinary surgeons are likely to be making difficult decisions about prioritising cases and that some consumables (disinfectants, equipment, etc.) and drugs may become in short supply. The NHS and human health has to take priority and it is vitally important we maintain the NHS supply chain. Your veterinary practice will have stocks to enable them to continue providing urgent and emergency care but please be understanding whilst human and animal health care works together to care for everybody. None of us want to be in a position where limited supplies compromise animal welfare and veterinary practices are working hard to try and reduce this risk as much as possible.


What should we do if lots of people are self-isolating or infected and can’t get to the centre to look after the equines?

We would recommend the implementation of minimal carers on a basic regime at this point to reduce the risk of large numbers of people having to self-isolate simultaneously. Please refer to our basic regime document for ideas on this which can be found on the RDA website (https://www.myrda.org.uk/assets/CORONAVIRUS-EMERGENCY-PLANNING-FOR-EQUINES-March-2020-V1-PDF.pdf).






09 April 2020 Introduction to Equine Faciliated Learning

07 April 2020Library

Please have a look at our new library section.

It contains all sorts of documents and information that may be useful to groups.

03 April 2020Ettrickbridge & Dryden RDA Group Newsletter




Following the government’s announcement yesterday, asking people to work from home and implement social distancing measures, we now assume that most if not all RDA group activity will have to cease.


Open groups

While it is the decision of your board of trustees whether to close or remain open, RDA’s strong advice is for groups to close and suspend activity.

If you do not, you must be certain that you can meet the guidance around social distancing and that your group can put measures in place to keep everyone safe.

What is social distancing?

▪ Social distancing means trying to avoid contact with other people.

▪ It means spending less time in public places, where a lot of people are around.

You can read the government guidelines on this here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults


Regional Qualifiers & National Championships

In consultation with Regional Chairs and the Championships Lead, we have decided to cancel all Regional Qualifiers and The National Championships. We know this will be disappointing for everyone involved but please understand we have not made this decision lightly.


Coach reviews, First Aid and Safeguarding Updates

We understand that some training or reviews have a deadline attached to them to enable your coaches and volunteers to continue supporting your group. For the time being, we are issuing 6 month extensions on coach reviews and first aid courses.


Whilst safeguarding training should be updated every three years and alternated between face-to-face and on-line, if anyone is due to update their safeguarding and it should be face to face, they can either:

▪ Delay face to face training for up to 6 months i.e. by end of September


▪ Update online, providing face to face training is then attended within 12 months.

Please be assured; we have run this by our insurers who have agreed the extensions in the current circumstances.


Coach assessments

We advise postponing all coach assessments for the foreseeable future. We know this will be a frustration for the coaches affected, but we must prioritise the health of everyone involved, including the riders and volunteers who would be needed. This will mean the coaches will need to continue to be supervised until such time the assessments can be rescheduled.


Closed groups

Understandably, many RDA groups have now taken the difficult decision to close. We fully support this action and know it has not been made lightly. The impact on participants will be significant, as well as for volunteers, for whom RDA provides an important community.


We will continue to support groups as much as possible during this difficult time. There will be a few staff in the office and the majority will be working from home, but please continue to contact us – by email wherever possible.



Some specific areas you might be interested in:

▪ Talk to the comms team about publicity for your group. We will be circulating a template press release to help get support from your local area. This will also be a good time to stay in touch with your RDA community through social media, so please ask if you have any questions or need any advice. cward@rda.org.uk

▪ Talk to the fundraising team about how to use this time to fundraise. This could be a good time to look at MyRDA and applying for grants, using social media to fundraise etc. cyapp@rda.org.uk 

▪ Use our educational resources to help your participants continue with RDA while they can’t come to sessions. Contact Marisa about Proficiency Tests, Arts & Crafts and more. marisa@rda.org.uk


Groups with paid employees

Employees have now been asked to work from home where possible. This may have an impact on your ability to look after your horses. The government has not issued any advice about this yet. We will let you know as soon as this changes.


In the meantime, ACAS is regularly updating its website with useful advice and information for employers and employees. www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus


National Office

National Office remains open but will be operating with a skeleton staff in the office, with the majority of staff working from home. Please contact us by email wherever possible.


Staying safe

Most importantly, we urge you and everyone involved at your group to prioritise their own health and wellbeing. This is an unprecedented situation for all of us and there is still a lot of change to come. We will do our very best to stay in regular contact, to support you and your community as much as possible, and we wish you all the very best of health and good luck in the coming weeks.

Best wishes,


Ed Bracher
Chief Executive, RDA UK


11 March 2020Regional Coaching Conference

Regional Coaching Conference 

You are likely be keeping up to date with events in the media, and may have seen the recent update from RDA UK regarding Covid 19 (copied below for info).  

Whilst there is no firm evidence to suggest that holding our conference on the 22nd of March will add to the risk of the virus spreading, sense would say that we have a duty of care to our volunteers, participants and their families, not to run the event as planned.  

This is a postponement until after Easter and we are currently working with our speakers to identify a suitable date either in late April or early May before the 'silly season' starts.  As soon as we have a date identified a further calling notice and booking form will be sent out.

Thank you for your understanding. 



The date for the conference has been out for some time, but not the content. 

These are the details for the conference and the booking form.  There will be briefings and workshops on:


Equine behaviour and tips to solve

Equine Facilitated Learning

Setting Goals, Risk Assessments & Progression


The conference will again be taking place at the Dick Vet, Easter Bush Campus.

We will be in the Veterinary Teaching Building 


Please have your responses in Wed 18th March so that we can sort out catering etc.





On Thursday Kim and Tess had a great visit to East Fife and Scooniehill Group in their new home at Balcormo Stud, Leven.  It was lovely to be see their new location and hear about their plans for the future.  They have done a great deal of work already and the 'buzz' from the volunteers, is particularly noticeable.  Everyone; participants, volunteers and ponies are happy!  

The picture is of Fran demonstrating her 'pony wash' with hot and cold running water!

04 March 2020Inter Group Quiz

Berwickshire, Borders & Tweeddale groups all had a great time at todays Inter Group Quiz.

Over the 20 years it has been run it has been very sucessful & the volunteers & organisers have enjoyed watching the riders & vaulters who attend grow in confidence and knowledge.

Sadly this is the last quiz of its kind & all the groups involved are grateful to Margaret & the volunteers for all the hard they have put in over the years.

First Place Tweeddale Mercury

Second Place Tweeddale Neptune

Third Place Border Jupiter

Fourth Place Berwickshire Mars

Fifth Place Tweeddale Saturn

Sixth Place Tweeddale Venus

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