Well, as I write the plans for next term are well under way and riding for the disabled begins on September 6th. We are so excited!
There have been 11 new rider applications over the holidays, all needing to be slotted in where possible, and one person we had to disappoint because, sadly, as we do not do carriage driving any more. Then four more members of the public have offered to help with our rides which is brilliant. I’m looking forward to meeting you all.
Did anyone clock the Paralympics in Tokyo? Here’s where our team members started their riding careers:
The UK Paralympics Equestrian Team
We feel very proud of these people. Congratulations to Lee, Natasha and Sophie for beating the Dutch team to Gold by the smallest ever margin: 0.656%. Phew. Just look at their faces. (with thanks to Horse and Hound magazine) Of course its congratulations to their horses too.
Sir Lee Pearson visited our Shelly Show a few years ago to demonstrate his dressage skills, I’m told it was very inspiring. Pity I couldn’t see him, there were too many spectators blocking my view.
I am so excited that my own riders are coming back. We shall have to be extremely careful to keep them Covid free in my room, lots of fresh air blowing through and my helpers in thermals I expect. Muscles will have weakened, and joints become stiff over the long absence of my physiotherapy so we shall start very gently and help the riders to regain their balance and suppleness. It’s going to be great.
Good luck with the start of term my friends and keep the virus firmly in its box. A safe September to you all.
August 2021 (No 144)
My ears listen out for more gossip but I’m a bit locked up at present. Security is important obviously, but Babs and I don’t get much of a look in at present. I listen to the Maintenance Team chatting, repairing things and discussing their schedules. My photo shows a bit of a refit going on to the kitchen door!
Our fab Fund raisers are active whilst I rest my circuits. There is to be a FUN DOG SHOW here on September 11th with lots of other attractions: A Fete, a children’s craft competition with a horse theme, a second-hand tack sale, and refreshments. Look out for the posters.
Our RDA Chief Executive Ed Bracher, pictured here, is running in the London Marathon to raise funds for the Grants to Groups programme, helping RDA groups recover from the pandemic. “Help me to spread the word, if you can, by getting your RDA Community to sponsor me by sharing the JustGiving link below. Perhaps 26 of your supporters could donate £1 each?” https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/EdsRDAMarathon
Enjoy the start of term my friends, and don’t forget to keep smiling. I’m looking forward to seeing our regular riders again and meeting the all new ones. Cheerio!
July 2021 (No 143)
Isn’t it Murphy’s Law that when we are starting to work normally the Centre closes for the long summer holidays? Well, we are enjoying having lessons with more than one rider in them. The ponies tell me that they like working in a group as well; certainly the volunteers prefer being busy on their chosen sessions at Shelley. It’s been a grand start to the summer despite us only being open until July 9th. My first photo is of the end of one of Debs’s lessons where her riders are nicely lined up, ready to dismount.
June 2021 (No 142)
I wanted to express our thanks to several kind souls who have donated to the Centre anonymously recently because of course we can’t say it to their faces. You know who you are, and how very welcome your donations are.
Volunteers form the Centre will be helping to steward Stratford Hills Horse Trials on June 19th & 20th so say hello if you pass any blue shirts with this logo (above) in white! Then on July 6th we shall have the Centre’s AGM, outside of course, followed by a great BBQ in the yard. May the gods be kind with the weather for all your plans and ours; keep yourselves safe, see you next month.
May 2021 (No 141)
Joy of joys, we are gradually getting back to normal with our two Wednesday ladies actually back on live horses at last. How very different from May last year when we were closed and worried about our Shelley ‘family’, not to mention the rest of the world.
So we have about three rides a day at present, with three participants at most in each one. No riders that need mounting by a full team of helpers, and no riders who have to use our hoist, are back yet, and neither are our special schools, so we are still a bit under used. However it’s a start and we are the better for it.
My next photo shows Jacquie about to enter the arena on Bryn. Both he and Parys are being made to work by these two ladies and its great to see ears pricked and legs stretching out. (The horses and the riders)
Lastly our photogenic Belle is standing by her recent rider, Ruby-Blu, who had a quietly lovely lesson also on Wednesday and whose pink jacket really cheered up a chilly greyish morning. Thank you Ruby-Blu.
I have had some of my own riders back in, and its great to see them again and to be able to help loosen those ligaments that have tightened up during lock down. Our volunteers are doing a great job of cleaning and disinfecting hats, boots and tack. I hear them whisper that there is a lot of hanging around now, so we hope they won’t give up on us! It will get busier. This is the month when restrictions are due to lessen, we are all looking forward to that.
My last photo is of the bluebells in the valley called ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ up which those supporters ‘Striding out for Shelley’ will go on May 2nd. Thank you to everyone who participates in this latest fund raiser, may you dodge the much needed rain!
April 2021 (No 140)
Happy Easter dear readers, and may it be the last you have to spend alone. What good progress you are making to reduce the impact of the dreadful virus. Thanks to the onerous restrictions borne by our humans, things are looking up here at The Centre. We had two weeks of carefully controlled return to riding before the Easter holidays began, much enjoyed by all the participants and volunteers.
I have been back at work too. Some of my adult riders have been to see me, those who can mount by themselves have broken the long, long weeks of boredom for me and Babs. The last Friday of term was so windy (remember that?) I was substituted for the live ponies and had even more fun. O it feels great to be needed again.
Our fund raising committee is coming out of hibernation too. It held a very clever Zoom quiz in March, raising over £300. Next up is the May bank holiday walk from the stables here, around parts of the Brett valley. Only six miles long so anyone can join in, and instead of having to collect up sponsorship you just pay a fiver to participate on the day. All children and dogs go free. There will be CAKE.
When next I post my blog the summer term will have begun. Here’s to all our school age riders having a good time getting back into the way of doing what school children do. And here’s to all our adults being able to lead more enjoyable lives too. Keep safe and careful folks, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.......................
March 2021 (No 139)
Yeah! We have a plan for reopening. Its going to be slow and careful, but even before the Easter holidays there will be two weeks of riding for those clients that are able to attend with minimal help from the volunteers. Their Coaches will contact them to see how they feel about this.
Babs and I have to remain on the back burner as usual. So many of our riders need three other people to attend, and as its impossible for us to be outside we shall just have to wait for the warmer weather when we can have the door and windows open. Its great to look forward, isn’t it?
My blogs in the local press have generated a few donations to help feed the 10 equine workers who live here. Our grateful thanks go to you kind individuals, you know who you are. Especial thanks to Hadleigh Town Council that has sent us a donation of
The town has long supported us, supplied us with volunteers and sometimes sends its disabled residents here to find strength and recovery. We love being a part of this community and look forward to the time when the Hadleigh Show restarts and we can participate in it, and other town events.
February 2021 (No 138)
Here we are again, still closed and twiddling our ‘hooves’. We watch the daylight increasing and the snowdrops bursting open and are reminded that after this very short month we shall be able to look forward to Spring.
When you’ve all had your vaccinations we should be able to get going again, we can’t wait! Obviously we shall have to observe some restrictions far into the year, but you know our management team, it will ensure everyone’s safety when we do open.
Our small team of volunteers continues to keep the horses and ponies fed, watered and groomed. We know how lucky we are, lots of our human friends have less going on in their lives than we do. At least the live herd can see and smell their friends, and if sharing a field they can even nibble each other. I don’t think much has changed for them except the work routine.
The maintenance team also continues with its work, doing a super job even in the cold and wet, we can’t thank the good members enough.
As you can imagine, there is a big body of super people laid off from the Shelley Centre at present, all of them no longer looking forward to their ‘day’ up here with us and their riders. Sadly, some will not be able to come back when we do reopen, anno dominie having caught up with them or family commitments having changed. So if you are thinking about doing a half day volunteering with us once we are out of lockdown, please get in touch! We always welcome new recruits.
Well, Babs and I work on electricity so we are not a problem but I hear there is a hay shortage this winter! So to all you horse owners out there: good luck with finding supplies, and here’s hoping the wet weather abates for our fields to recover. Horse ownership eh?
Good wishes to all our readers and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. ‘Bye!
January 2021 (No 137)
2021:- Bless my circuits, we made it........ all the horses and ponies, real and mechanical, wish you A MUCH HAPPIER NEW YEAR! What ever will it be like?
Talking of the Vet, I hear you readers are to get a new vaccination in 2021! We are all willing this to happen quickly so we can reopen. We’ll make up for lost time when restrictions ease but meanwhile the message is to wait for your instructor to call you about restarting, and to keep well! Good luck everybody.
December 2020 (No 136)
The Centre only worked until 4th November, then we closed again. It was such a blow, after we had begun to get a few riders back in the saddle, and had so many sensible precautions in place. However I can’t complain, many businesses and charities are far worse off than we are. Whilst a team of good friends keep the live herd fit and happy Babs and I remain in our dark and lonely room with the door firmly shut, where my electrics are switched off, and Babs’s mechanicals are secure.
We shall hope to meet again in the New Year!
October 2020 (No 135)
Better news from the yard this month: we do have some of our riders back in the saddle at last. It has taken a great deal of organisation. A new approach was needed.
Our volunteers take on the task of delivering uncontaminated boots and a hat (off the ‘green’ table) to each rider as he/she arrives, and the parent or carer helps get them dressed. After the ride has finished the carer or parent takes off the things that belong to us here, and places them on the ‘red’ table outside the stable block. That’s where a volunteer collects them for deep cleaning. Then between rides all the tack is disinfected and cleaned by other helpers. The number of rides we can give is severely reduced, obviously, but the volunteer army is still needed for all the cleaning and sanitising that is required. So a big thank you to everyone for making this possible, however trying it all is.
Am I back in work? No, not yet. I did show our royal visitor how I work, thanks to Mia being able to mount me unaided. She and I did a good job of our moment of fame, and I’m sure the Princess thought we were great. It would have been too crowded in my room to have had the photographer in as well; she took this lovely one of Mia and me later, just for the record.
The only other black equine on the yard besides me is my friend Squidgy. She is our hard working Shetland, also on furlough like me because her usual small riders need supporting whilst they begin their journey to strength here. Squidgy, aged 29, has a problem with her teeth. (Don’t we all!) She finds it impossible to chew grass. Her Mum, Lyn, gives her two delicious feeds a day so she still thrives, and she still keeps her sense of humour. As she needs to be alone with her feed bucket she gets the run of the stable yard during her meal times. She takes ages to eat so the humans go off and attend to other jobs whilst waiting for her to finish. But Squidgy has one eye on the yard whilst those old teeth eat, and she can spot an unfastened door a mile off. Last week, when Lyn came to take her back to the field, she was nowhere to be seen. Lyn thought somebody else had taken her back until she noticed a little black ear through the glass door of the office! Madame had quietly squeezed through the open crack and found a picnic. Those wobbly teeth had demolished one apple, one pear, and as Lyn caught up with her, a chocolate brownie was disappearing, complete with wrapper. This shows form, wouldn’t you say?
So here we are in October already, and facing a tricky winter if what I hear is right. More courage and steadfastness is going to be needed by our lovely humans, and the horses will do their bit as usual. Some of our school children will get a half term break this month, and some will be hoping to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve. Lets hope they can. Keep up the good work everyone and stay safe, we are all in this for the long haul, wobbly teeth or no.
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