1. How do I ride with RDA?Please head over to here to fill in a registration form and one of us will contact you shortly!
2. Why use horses for therapy?The ancient Greeks were using horses for therapy way back when, and we find that horses are amazing therapists for both physical and intellectual needs -- riding a horse causes the body to move in all 3 dimensions, and just 10 minutes on a horse equals 1000 random muscle movements! Scientific research has also shown just being with horses calms people down. What's also great is that horses mirror you, this means they give immediate feedback on your actions and body language, so a person learns to act and react appropriately.
Horses provide a tool for physical therapy and cognitive improvement in a unique format that's fun, exhilarating, and sometimes has the power to change a person’s perspective on life. The contact with the animal is a powerful experience, and the strong bond that is sometimes experienced often has a profound, uplifting effect on people who are troubled or suffering.
We have seen our beneficiaries (RDA riders) gain increased self-confidence, improved circulation, respiration, balance, motor coordination and mobility. For someone who is unable to walk unaided, see or has communication difficulties, riding a horse allows them to experience a new sense of freedom and independence. People using wheelchairs for mobility are able to walk tall with the aid of a horse – they are no longer looked down upon. They can venture into the forest or jungle for a walk, something that is virtually impossible for anyone who is a wheelchair user.
3. What is Hippotherapy?Derived from the Greek hippos (horse), "Hippotherapy" literally refers to treatment or therapy aided by a horse. You may have also heard of "Theraputic Horseback Riding", and "Equine-Assisted Therapy" which is an umbrella term for therapy incorporating the equine environment into a treatment session.
The American Hippotherapy Association, Inc., defines hippotherapy as a physical, occupational or speech therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement. The horse's pelvis has a similar three-dimensional movement to the human's pelvis at the walk. The horse's movement is carefully graded at the walk in each treatment for the patient. This movement provides physical and sensory input which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. The variability of the horse's gait enables the therapist to grade the degree of input to the patient and use this movement in combination with other treatment strategies to achieve desired therapy goals or functional outcomes. In addition, the three-dimensional movement of the horse's pelvis leads to a movement response in the patient's pelvis which is similar to the movement patterns of human walking. A foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing, which can be generalized to a wide range of daily activities and address functional outcomes and therapy goals.
Therapeutic horseback riding is the use of horses and equine-assisted activities in order to achieve goals that enhance physical, emotional, social, cognitive, behavioral and educational skills for people who have disabilities. It not only focuses on the therapeutic riding skills but also the development of a relationship between horse and rider. It uses a team approach in order to provide treatment for the individual with the guidance of riding instructor.
4. How much does therapy at RDA Singapore cost?RDA offers its services free of charge, and we are also the only place in Singapore to provide free therapy. Each therapy ride costs RDA around $120 to $145, and beneficiaries ride for 10 sessions in each term. We accept donations in order to cover the operating costs, which run just over $1 million each year. We depend heavily on donations and fundraising to meet this, and only a small portion of funding comes from grants or state programs.
Be part of RDA by Volunteering with us or Donating to our program!
5. Do the RDA horses undergo special training?Yes, the therapy program includes many non-traditional riding exercises so our horses are taught to be patient and cooperate with our efforts. They need to accept the different kinds of equipment we use in session, and work with their team members (a leader and sidewalkers) around them. Other key things include mounting from the ramp or chair lift; accepting riders with less balance, trunk control, and spasticity than most riders -- after all it's not just the rider balancing on the horse, the horse also works to balance the rider; and the horses learn to accommodate riders who do things like lay stomach down on the horse or ride backwards.
6. Is specialized tack or equipment used for the sessions?We use english style riding saddles which are commonly used for daily riding, In addition, we have equipment suited for a variety of needs. Aside from the game stations which are custom made by our volunteers and instructors, in the therapy sessions, you can see bareback pads, seat savers, loop reins, rainbow reins, vaulting girths, bunny ears, longden bar, and many other helpful tools that we use. Such equipment may help our beneficiary physically or mentally for the horse back riding therapy. For mounting the horse, we have steps, a ramp and a chair lift to assist our beneficiaries.
Click here to read our wish list of items, thank you!
7. What breed of horses does RDA use?No particular breed is favored for equine therapy, what is crucial is the temperament and personality of the horse. Among the RDA herd are Thoroughbreds, polo ponies-which are typically Criollo or Criollo crosses, Quarter horse, Paint, Irish Cob, Welsh pony, New Forest Pony, Appaloosa, and other ponies of varied backgrounds.
Click here to look at our charming and hardworking therapy horses
8. Tell me more about horse riding as a para-sport?The Equestrian sport can be practiced by riders with almost any type of disability, and most of all, it's a lot of fun!
The only equestrian discipline included in the Paralympic Games is Dressage, which was actually originally invented for mounted battle training 2000 years ago!
For competitions, there is a classification system which puts riders into five grades:
-Grades Ia and Ib incorporate the most severely impaired riders with poor trunk balance or impairment of balance in all four limbs.
-Grade II is for riders with severe locomotive impairment involving the trunk, with reasonable balance and abdominal control, or severe unilateral impairment.
-Grade III riders are mainly able to walk without support, with severe arm impairment or moderate unilateral impairment. This also includes riders with a total loss of vision in both eyes.
-Grade IV riders will have an impairment in one or two limbs, or some degree of visual impairment.
Were you inspired by the Singapore's National Para-Dressage team? Click here to read more about Laurentia, Gemma and Max and Click here to visit the Equestrian page of the Paralympic website.
Each year, RDA Singapore teams up with the Singapore Disability Sports Council and hosts the equestrian segment of Singapore's National Para-Games. It's an exciting day where riders with disabilities compete at various levels!