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New pony Heidi

We are so pleased to introduce Heidi, the newest member of our pony team.

She has been undergoing training and assessment, and has now passed all her tests, and her vet's inspection with flying colours. 

Our Mess room became very spooky on Halloween Day!

Everybody thoroughly enjoyed getting in to the spirit of things, whilst eating delicious scary cakes at coffee time.

Many thanks to the volunteers who set this up...what fun!

What a brilliant Christmas lunch we had this year!

Having not been able to hold this event for the last couple of years, it was especially nice to see so many of our riders, carers and volunteers enjoying the delicious food and merriment.

Our chairperson Pam presented some awards to our riders - some for their achievements,  and some for their wonderful personalities.  Team Watershed pulled together magnificently with  so much help and so  many contributions,  making it another Legendary occasion. We thank each and every one of you for making it the success it was!! 

RDA National virtual dressage competition - The Results!

We are very proud of all our riders who entered the Virtual Dressage Competition held by National RDA. The results have been announced and the finals were shown on You Tube last weekend.

Amy Williams was a very creditable 18th in her class - there were lots of entries in this class - Penny Thomas came 8th and Sue Johnson was placed 6th, all in the qualifiers.

Both Louise Rounds and Fiona Tovey made it through to the Finals and both won their Freestyle Dressage to music classes and Fiona was also second in her pure dressage class whilst Louise won her dressage class. 

All the results are incredible and the riders are very keen to pass on their sincere thanks to all the volunteers for making this possible and to the Coaches for all their hard work.

 Having passed their assessments, our new ponies Bobby and Sunshine joined the rider sessions for the first time this week,

They behaved impeccably and we are so proud of them!

Their new riders  loved them, as do all the volunteers involved.

Sunshine and Bobby have completed their assessments and training  successfully, and have passed with flying colours!

We are so pleased with them both, and they will definitely be a huge asset to our pony team.

What a  successful Open Day we had!

It was a lovely sunny day, and we were delighted that so many people came along. We even raised almost £1,500 to boot! 

Here are a few photos of the day, and there are more over on our Gallery page.

Huge congratulations to Chris Walker who has just come equal second in the Mongol Derby!

This really is a remarkable and epic achievement. Not only that, he has also raised over £7000 for The Watershed RDA by competing.

We are all so proud of him at The Watershed and can’t wait to thank him in person.

Henry started riding with us earlier in the year, and here he is riding Ben on his very first ride. He has loved his sessions at RDA and has already improved his confidence and his riding skills considerably. 

By the end of this term, he achieved his first Endeavour award. Well done Henry!

Polly Williamson

We were delighted to have been contacted at the end of last Summer by none other than Polly Williamson.  Polly is a renowned local Equestrian, former Junior European Eventing Champion and an accomplished Three Day Eventer.

In 2011, however, she suffered very serious injuries after a fall from a horse and had not been able to ride since then.

Her first ride at Watershed RDA was on Copper, who was an absolute star. It took an enormous amount of courage, but Polly managed to mount and be led around the area for a short time  at her first session. Over the next couple of sessions she progressed to trotting and even cantering independently. Copper was steady and responsive throughout, and proved to be the perfect confidence giver.

Polly's goal was to be able to ride again so that she could exercise her son's pony Pimms .  She has shared these lovely photos of  her riding Copper here at Watershed, and then her son's pony at home. She cracked it! 

We are among many many people who are incredibly proud of her determination and her accomplishment, and we are honoured to have been able to help her.

She has asked us to particularly thank Pam Farnsworth our Chairperson, Nikky Whittet our Coach and Pavlina Budalova a volunteer helper for all their support, and for making this possible.....and of course to Copper the pony!!

Mirrors in the Arena

Thanks to funds donated by a generous local Trust , we have been able to purchase and install a row of mirrors in our arena.

These will be an invaluable coaching aid, so that riders can check their riding position, and watch themselves performing various activities on their ponies.

We needed to ensure that all of our ponies were accustomed to seeing  these new mirrors  before any lessons took place.

They were most surprised, as you can imagine,  but provided us with much amusement!

Arena Lights

The arena lights that we had installed have been a huge benefit now that winter is here again.

 We are now able to provide extra 'after school' rides on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, for 12 riders who would previously have been unable to ride. 

They fold down neatly against the fence when not needed.

Saddle Fitting

It is very important to have our saddles checked regularly to ensure they continue to fit comfortably, and do not cause any rubbing. Master saddler Maurice Emtage kindly does this for us.

Pony Dentist

Every year our ponies need to have their teeth checked, and filed smooth if necessary. We are very grateful to Stuart Philpott, the equine dentist from Field of Equitation, who kindly continues to donate his services. 

The process looks a little drastic, but although rather undignified, it does not harm the ponies at all and they don't seem to mind.

Some new signs have been positioned in the arena. In addition to the letters which mark the dressage positions along the fence line , they also have images of  animals which will be easier for some riders to identify.

There is also a new red posting box, which provides fun and a challenge for the riders as they position their pony close enough to post an object through the slot.

Benefits of RDA highlighted on BBC News!

There was a broadcast on BBC1  Sport news recently about the impact of lock down. They had filmed one of our riders to show the benefit for the small number of participants who have been able to keep going.  Our President, HRH The Princess Royal was interviewed for the story, and we are very grateful to her.

This will be a great opportunity to raise awareness of our work and the vital part RDA groups play in their communities.

If you would like to watch  it, copy this link to your browser:

Now, isn't that just the best tail you ever did see?!

Visit from the Farrier

The ponies were brought back to the stables from  their field yesterday for a routine visit from the farrier.

They were probably glad to come in out of the rain and the mud for a while.  Our covered 'outdoor classroom' is invaluable as a safe dry place for the ponies to stand whilst Bernie attends to each of them in turn.

We are continuing our training with using the new hoist. Here you see Smartie being a good as gold and standing completely still whilst preparations are made to dismount the rider.

Our rider in this case is one of our young volunteers, who said afterwards that she felt very safe and stable whilst being lifted - although obviously it was rather a wierd feeling! We have very accurate control of the hoist and the rider can be lowered carefully into a wheelchair if desired.

Some of our Tuesday afternoon riders were treated to this wonderful Rainbow backdrop yesterday!

Look at these super photos of some of our riders having a lovely time during their lesson! They are riding beautifully and should be very proud of their progress!

Security measures

Following the devastating theft of our horse trailer, we have now installed CCTV cameras on the premises, and our stable yard buildings are  fully alarmed.

50 bags of pony manure!

Volunteers Bill and Sarah and their trusty dog Chester kindly helped bag up some well rotted manure on the weekend.

We are selling it for £1 a bag to raise money for Watershed RDA.

If you would like to have some for your garden, then please

 contact Lorraine on 07840 739456

It's brilliant for the roses!

The things we do for Charity!

Periodically we need to collect dropping samples from our ponies so they can be sent off for analysis for potential parasite issues. If a sample comes back as positive, the affected pony is given medication.

The ponies were exercised yesterday, and here you can seed Finn wearing his protective fly coverings (He REALLY dislikes the horse flies!)

You can also see our Chairperson Pam, who valiantly dismounted every time a pony 'performed' and collected a sample!

It certainly added entertainment for for the rest of us!

Thank you Pam !

Nesting birds in our stables

We have been delighted to offer accommodation at our stable yard to some nesting birds!

A pair of beautiful swallows have built their nest in our feed room, and are currently feeding their chicks. They are flying in and out via Copper's stable - even whilst he is using it.

Also a pair of pied wagtails decided to build their nest under the eaves of Connor's old stable. Their two chicks have successfully fledged, and have been seen hopping around the yard! See the photo!

Some robins started building their nest just inside Jessie's stable. It rather fell apart the first time, leaving piles of moss on the floor. Undeterred, they built it again...but no better I am sorry to they have left to have another go somewhere else. Well, we all learn by practice!

Some wasps decided to build their intriguing nest in the tack room, but they did not receive a happy welcome from us, and they have also moved on to somewhere else.

Volunteer's Week

Every year, Volunteers' week takes place on a National level from 1st - 7th June. It is a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK.

We wish to extend our own appreciation to all our volunteers at Watershed RDA. We are so grateful for all that you do, and we simply could not operate our RDA group without you!

We have recently received this lovely letter from our President, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, which we wanted to share with you.

There are some also some lovely messages and video clips especially for Volunteers' week on the National RDA Facebook page, including one from Clare Balding.

If you would like to have a look, here is the link:

Our Sensory Garden at the stables has grown a  lot and is starting to bloom. The irises are looking particularly exotic! 

It's such a pity none of you can come to the yard to appreciate it just yet...

The reluctant decision has been made to let  MO go to a new home.

He is only about 9 years old, and being very intelligent, courageous and confident, we feel he will be more fulfilled in a life with more stimulation and challenge for him.

He had become rather bored with his RDA life, and although his mischievous antics kept us all amused, he was no longer as completely reliable and steadfast as is essential for us.

In his new home there are many other horses and ponies, he will be well loved and cared for, and we believe he will be able to stay there forever.

We will miss him for sure, as will Finn who had become his best friend field mate. 

You probably really need to be over 18yrs to become an RDA pony!

A message from Di Green, a former Watershed RDA rider 

Our new Ambassador!

"It is with real pride that I can announce that I have been officially crowned Ambassador for Watershed RDA - for those of you who have followed my path through getting back in the saddle all the way to an International Para Dressage career with Equestrian Team GBR will know how grateful I am to Watershed for taking a weeping, timid, former rider and turning me into a strong confident and competitive rider, I will never be able to thank them enough, so this is a real honour for me and I can't wait to get started in this new role. "

You can read about Di's early days of getting back in the saddle at Watershed RDA on our'Stories' page here on our website.

Peyo the therapy stallion from France

Some of you will already have seen this incredibly moving video clip about this horse, and it seems to be having a resurgence again as it is shared between friends on social media.

We at Watershed already know of the profound therapeutic power of horses, but Peyo is particularly special, and we thought you would enjoy seeing him.

Apologies in advance, as it is a bit of a tear jerker...

Click this link to watch:

Proficiency Test revision sheets

National RDA have produced some fun and colourful revision sheets for the theory elements of the Grades 1, 2 and 3 Proficiency tests.

They are available here:

If any of our riders would like to have a go at these 'Mock' tests, then please feel free to send your answers into us here at and one of our qualified Coaches will check your answers for you and let you know how you have done!


Here she is!

Queen of the herd. 

So pretty, so special  

Welcome to the newest member of our team!

We are now the very proud owners of a shiny new Red Tractor! Well, it is a second-hand, reburbished one, but we love it just the same, and will rely on it for so many jobs here at Watershed RDA.

 Our previous tractor was struggling with its health and fitness and has had to leave us for pastures new...

Country Living magazine article and film

You may remember that last summer, to mark the 50th anniversary of RDA in the UK, we were visited by a film crew and journalists from Country Living magazine. They produced a wonderful article about us at Watershed RDA and also a very moving 5 minute film.  The day they came was gloriously sunny , and they accompanied us on a hack out into the countryside, and through the bluebell woods.  

To see the article and film again,  click this link:

New sensory garden

We are now proud to have two new sensory garden toughs planted up and positioned at the edge of our lawned area near the Mess room.

We were grateful to have received a donation from Tesco, which enabled us to purchase the planting troughs and also some gardening tools. One of our volunteers, Pavlína Budaiová, together with help from gardener Vicky Hurkett May did a wonderful job with preparing the troughs and with the planting up.

 We are grateful also, for donations of plants from other volunteers and Friends of RDA. and also to Dobbies Garden Centre, Miserden Nursey and Stancombe Beech Farm shop.

The plants used all have particular textures, colours and fragrances which will bring great enjoyment and sensory stimulation.

Watershed Mugs

These beautiful bone china mugs have been sponsored by The Rural Planning Practice.

They will be for sale at our 2020 events for £7.99.

If you would like to pre- order some, please contact Kate on

 07876 533322

A big THANK YOU to The RPP for their support and The Watershed RDA hope that you will all be drinking lots of tea from them!

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