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!

We are very excited to have welcomed a new pony to the team!

Siwan  is a very pretty 13.2hh Welsh cob, section C. Her name is Welsh, and is pronounced 'Sue-Ann'.

She is kindly on loan to us from the Waite family, as their daughter has sadly outgrown her.

She is settling in well, is easy to handle, and goes well in the arena.

Jessie is rather perturbed to have another lady on her patch, but we feel sure they will be good friends in time!

Copper is currently staying with  a local family of regular volunteers with their other ponies. He has been having lots of  hacking to keep him fit, and also extra schooling.  He is such a talented pony that he is clearly thriving on the extra attention and stimulation.

 He will be returning to Watershed in good time for the re-starting of our lessons. 

Huge thanks go to the lovely Archer family for taking such good care of him, and doing him SO much good!

The ponies were excercised last Friday, and it turned out to be a scorching hot day. They did get rather sweaty and sticky and were certainly in need of a cool shower.

Luckily, we happened to have some help on hand at the stables, so the ponies had a bit of a full on pamper session. They absolutely loved it, so thank you to all the willing little hands!

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.

Letter from our Trustees - 15th June 2020

Dear volunteers and riders,

We know there will be a lot of you who have missed your time at Watershed RDA and want to know when

we can get back; however, any return to Watershed, needs careful consideration by all of us.
The risks of COVID-19 remain, so any activity will need to meet latest UK regulations. Even as restrictions
are lifted, we anticipate that social distancing will be required for an extended period and this will have a
significant impact on what we will be able to do. Indeed, because of this Watershed RDA will not be able to
contemplate returning until September 2020 at the very earliest.
We recognise that we will face challenges in both preparing ourselves, our ponies and our facilities in order
to re-open. The group’s trustees have already started thinking about how we would operate with social
distancing rules.
We recognise there will be volunteers and riders who are excited about getting back to Watershed RDA,
but there will also be others who are worried and scared about facing a changed environment and the risks
that remain, and there will be some who want to return but who cannot for their own safety.
The group’s trustees believe now is the right time to better understand who can be involved. Also, we need
to consider if we will have any participants who can return and if so, will we have enough volunteers
willing and able to support them.
Groups across the UK are receiving a lot of support from National RDA; this includes advice and guidance,
and also useful resources to help us get ready to re-open.
We are putting in place plans to prepare our venue by providing the essentials around hygiene in the
current situation; sanitisers, zoning and new protocols which need to be in place.
There is a lot to think about, and we need to take time to consider what is needed and do it in a way that
suits our group and everyone involved. In everything we do we must consider safety – safety for our
volunteers, safety for our riders, safety for our ponies. For example, to comply with current social
distancing requirements, it may not be possible to accommodate riders who require assistance to mount
unless they can supply family members/carers to assist them; many of whom will need the requisite
We have attached to this letter a short questionnaire which we would like you to please complete and
return so we can better understand how our volunteers and riders feel about Watershed RDA re-opening
and their participation once we re-open.
We will keep the return of riding sessions under constant review and, as and when the regulations change,
update you on our plans for re-opening.
We look forward to being able to see many of you again soon.
Watershed RDA Trustees 

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:

We had the diggers in !

A trench has been dug all the way from the stables to the arena so that an electric cable can be laid. This is very exciting as it will bring us one step closer to being able to install a hoist for the mounting area. We will then be able to offer therapeutic riding for those who are unable to mount in the conventional way.

We will also have the possibility of having some portable lighting in the arena for those late winter afternoons when it becomes too dark for us to safely continue lessons.

These improvements will enable us to offer more weekly riding sessions and enable more riders to benefit from coming to Watershed  RDA.

Good news indeed!

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.

Sadly, dear little Misty passed away from old age fairly recently.

Many of you will remember her from Monday afternoons when she was brought to the stables with her companion pony Ben by Kate Beim, who owned her.

Misty was over 30 years old and had a very full and happy life.

She had been a part of Watershed RDA  for many years, and her kind nature has given so much joy and confidence to her riders.

Although she was only small, she had a perky, cheerful character, was easy to tack up, safe to lead and she always walked out with energy and enthusiasm. 

She was dearly loved, both at her home with Kate's extended family, and by volunteers and riders at Watershed.

The watercolour painting of her you see above was done as a tribute by one of our volunteers. 

Whilst we are closed due to the virus outbreak, many of our riders are profoundly missing the benefits and pleasure of coming to Watershed each week. 

None more so than Gwendolyn,  who sadly finds it difficult to understand why she can't continue to come and ride her favourite pony Ben. 

During our 'lockdown' period she has been playing at home for hours with her toy stables and horses, and has a special stable especially for Ben.

In these photos you see her absolute delight whilst riding Ben, and can see just how much she has progressed, by her first ever ride out into the countryside recently.

Day 7 of Mo's lockdown yoga challenge..    

Final one!​

'The relaxation'

So, we might  have guessed...we already know this is one of his favourites!

Well done Mo for completing the challenge, and giving us so much entertainment along the way!!

Day 6...

'The cycling one'

He must find this one easy, since he is doing it with his with eyes closed!  Last day tomorrow...  what will it be??

Day 5 of Lockdown yoga challenge..

'The side lift'

Good for the core muscles, this one!

Day 4...

'The lunge'

Getting so good at this!

Day 3...

'The back arch'

Ooh, check out his smile!

Day 2 of Lockdown yoga challenge...

Is this one called 'the dog'  ? !

Lockdown yoga challenge!  

Well, little Mo was feeling rather bored in the field the other day, and decided to try some yoga positions.

He loved doing it so much that he has decided to set himself a challenge...

He will attempt a new yoga position every day for 7 days

Here you see his very first one... !!

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:

Our five ponies continue to enjoy a relaxing time in their paddock, although they are having light exercise weekly to keep them supple and healthy.

Regular chores like picking up their droppings from the field  are still having to be done. However, we do have some help on this front as you can see from the photos here of mischievous Mo!

Last week, it was time for them all to have their hooves trimmed.

This meant that they needed to be led carefully from their field through the village to the stable yard, where our blacksmith attended to them. I think they all enjoyed the little outing, and are probably missing the lesson days and the bustle of the stable yard as much as we all are!

We hope you all enjoyed the sunny weather during the

Easter Bank Holiday weekend!

As you can see, our ponies were very contented in their field and were thoroughly enjoying the warmth.

There were a few flies around, which is why they had their face masks on..  well, all except Mo who doesn't seem to need one, and would probably manage to get it off by himself anyway!

Poor Smartie has to be covered from top to toe to prevent the midgies causing his summer sweet itch problem.

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 [email protected] 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  

We know that many of you will be missing our ponies during this period of Corona Virus outbr​eak.

We would like to reassure you that they are still being very well cared for, and all our key pony-care personnel remain well and healthy.

The ponies are thoroughly enjoying a relaxing time together out in their field.

They have even been seen lying down, and snoozing in the recent warm sunshine.

Jessie is with them here also - just not in these photos.

I guess she is practicing social distancing!

Dementia Coffee Mornings with-a-pony 

Yesterday we had our induction meeting for our planned coffee mornings and are now  officially 'Dementia Friends'

As such, we have joined the UK's biggest ever initiative to change the way people think, act and talk about dementia.

We are also convinced of the joy, and the therapeutic benefits that connection with a pony will bring - not to mention the happy chatter and the cake!

If you would like to be involved with our initiative, or know someone who could benefit, then please contact Kathy Mottershead on 07979 853907

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...

We have had to replace a lot of the fencing posts around the padocks at the stables, as they were badly rotten, and beginning to fall down. We enlisted the help of contractors with this mega 'boys toys' machine to sink them into the ground. 

Despite the rain and water-logged ground, they didn't make too..oo much mess.

Here is our stalwart Ian battling the mud and rain to replace the electric fencing rope around the perimeters. Thank you Ian!

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 Dementia Group

We are planning to begin Dementia mornings in our Mess room on Mondays from Easter.

In the beginning this is most likely to happen once a month with a view to increasing to biweekly. It would be about an hour of refreshments and cake, interaction with the ponies, as well as the chance to walk around our sensory garden. We are following advice from National RDA and have arranged for a Dementia ‘Champion’ to come speak to us, and inspect our site to help us make it dementia friendly. 

This Champion is coming on the 9th March at 10:00 am

Please could you let Kathy Mottershead know ( 07979 853907)  if you would like to attend this meeting, are interested in helping but can’t make the date or even if you know someone who would benefit.

Thank You!

A huge thank you to the George Equine Clinic for their generous donation of £525.10.

On Monday 27th January 2020, a representative form The George Veterinary Group visited our stables to present this generous amount of money.  It will be put to very good use.

We were proud to welcome the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, Charles Berkeley and his wife Daisy to Watershed RDA on Monday 3rd February 2020.

They spent the afternoon with us, and were very interested to watch some rider lessons, and to meet and chat to some of our riders. Some rosettes were presented to the younger riders, which gave much delight! 

They were also very interested to meet the ponies in our stable yard. Daisy has a particular interest in the ponies since she is a renowned horse woman herself.

Our Mess room was also much appreciated as a warm and comfortable place to enjoy tea and cake, and for one our riders, Penny, to present them with some flowers as a thank you for coming.

It certainly seemed that they much enjoyed their visit, and went away inspired and impressed by everything we do at Watershed RDA!

We had a wonderful, festive Christmas lunch in Coates village Hall again this year. As always, it was a very popular event with our riders, friends and volunteers, and the hall was almost full to capacity. The food was superbly delicious, and all the Christmas decorations, crackers and party hats put everyone in the festive mood!

Annual Christmas street collection in Cirencester

We were lucky with the weather for the street collection day this year, and as usual it proved an interesting day with lots of contact with the public and useful conversations. Ben, our little RDA pony was, of course, the star of the show and extremely well behaved.

We raised a magnificent total of £986.28p and 7 euros

Thank you so much to everyone who helped us with the planning, and on the day!

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!