Are you ready to restart?


Any resources with changes are clearly dated and any key changes affecting actions in a Group have been written in blue.  Groups do not need to make any retrospective changes to anything already completed.

All resources on this and the other Getting Started pages have been developed by a working party of RDA staff, group/regional volunteers and trustees, who will continue to meet and agree amendments and additions to resources, as government guidance inevitably changes. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do talk them through with your Regional Chair, Regional Coach or email the RDA National Office team:

Planning & Preparation

2020 has been a difficult and challenging year for everyone, and there are many riders, volunteers and supporters who have really missed their time at RDA and just want to return as soon as possible. However, returning to the group in any capacity needs careful consideration.  In everything we do we must always consider safety first – safety for volunteers and staff, safety for participants, safety for horses.

We appreciate that it may seem a complex and daunting process, and so we have produced a range of documents and resources to help with your planning. Please start by reading the guidance notes and the accompanying glossary of terms below. These will help with your step-by-step decision making, and to identify when the time is right for your group to reopen.

Are we ready to start?

There are many things for trustees to consider before feeling confident that your group can start again. Here are the questions that will need to be answered to know when the time is right to open, and that all of the necessary preparations and safeguards have been put in place:

Some useful ‘top tips’:

To help to work your way methodically through the reopening process, we have prepared a useful ‘Getting Started’ trustee checklist. This checklist must be completed and emailed to RDA National Office along with your completed Covid-19 Risk Assessment (template below) before your group can start any sessions – even you are just planning some preparatory training with volunteers or equines. We’ll then be able to check your plans with you, and subject to any further queries or recommendations, we’ll then hopefully be able to approve your initial return.

COVID-19 Officer 

An appointed COVID-19 Officer is a mandatory requirement for venues in Scotland. As best practice elsewhere, we would expect RDA Groups to assign an individual to take on the role of COVID-19 Officer.

Thi officer should be the person that signs off the COVID-19 risk assessments. All sessions should be overseen to make sure policies are followed, and this should either be the COVID-19 officer themselves or a person to whom responsibility has been delegated by the COVID-19 officer and who will be in attendance at the session (i.e. the coach).

What about our horses?

All horses will have been “rested” from RDA work to varying degrees. For their welfare and everyone’s safety, groups will need to induct them all back into the work required of them; for some this may be a quick process but for others it may take weeks of re-training. Here’s a useful planner to make sure your horses are healthy and happy to return to work:

In addition, the BHS has produced some useful guidance on bringing a horse back into work. Groups can adapt this to fit the level of work needed within RDA.

Volunteers and Participants

These are optional tools to help you identify if you have enough volunteer support to restart, and which of your participants may be able to take part in the current restrictions. 

*This training record is intended to replace the need for an individual Basic Training Record Card (green card) to be issued for the following types of helper:

  • Those attending as a “household member” of a participant to help with their RDA session(s)

It is intended that this should simplify the system for this important group of helpers, so they do not need to complete a volunteer application form or disclosure check, but do need to complete this form, along with a Covid-19 volunteer consent form (see below).

Groups are reminded that it is the responsibility of the Session Coach to ensure that the helper has received the appropriate training for their role, but also has the final say as to their suitability to help in the session.

When your group is ready to start,  volunteers, staff and participants taking part will need to sign a consent form, accepting the terms of their return:

New Participants

New rider assessments may take place using a mechanical horse or using off-horse techniques that groups were using pre-COVID-19: Visual presentation, balance and being able to sit without back support etc. This should be done adhering to social distancing (please refer to Supporting disabled people during COVID-19 for current guidance). A separate risk assessment will need to take place for each rider and we would recommend for the majority of riders to have a number of sessions in a quiet corner/ stable management session first, to build the relationship between the coach and the rider and to better understand the level of communication between rider and coach.  If relevant, this may also be required to build the relationship between coach and trained household/bubble member if required to support for mounting and dismounting or sidewalking.

Working with Schools

We are encouraging groups to start and continue to have conversations with our schools, ideally with the Head so that they understand what activities are being offered if you are a group that is open, or what you plans are if you are not yet able to open. Some guidance is provided below along with a template letter which you can use with schools or adapt as you see fit.

Page Last Updated: November 13, 2020