Post Closure FAQ

When can I come back to riding?

Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer a ridden lesson to anyone until Government guidelines and RDA National Office advice allows. We do not have a timeframe for this.

Will there be any additional paperwork to complete before I can return to riding?

Yes, you will be asked to sign a consent form accepting RDA Covid 19 requirements designed to help avoid the spread of the virus and that you are not clinically extremely vulnerable or needing to self-isolate.

Our volunteers will also need to sign a similar form.

Why is it taking so long to restart?

The Centre had to close in mid-March and we had no alternative but to furlough all staff except for our caretaker, John, and our Centre Manager Claire Schimmer.

This has meant that our horses have been out in the fields grazing ever since, with daily checks being done on a voluntary basis.

The horses will need to go through about six weeks of gradually increasing exercise to get them fit for riding lessons again.

The requirements for social distancing mean that we cannot reintroduce RDA lessons as we ran them before. The majority of our riders need some close contact during mounting and dismounting as well as during lessons. We also have a high number of volunteers over the age of 60 and they are potentially at higher risk from the virus as well.

Who decides who can restart riding?

All our RDA coaches who know their riders well will be making these decisions with added support.

Can I wear a mask or face covering while riding?

This is the advice from RDA National Office:

  • Anyone mounted on a horse or undertaking exercise (side walking, leading etc) must not wear face coverings in RDA.
  • Anyone attending (who isn’t mounted or exercising) may choose to wear a face covering – they must always be safely secured so that they cannot be easily dislodged or removed. Face covering may cause alarm to equines if they are unsecure, brightly coloured or in any way distract from the activity taking place.
  • Because individuals may attend with face coverings, it is important that equines have been inducted with this in mind.

Are there any alternatives to riding that I can consider?

We will be looking to provide some opportunities for individual unmounted sessions in the fairly near future.

Why do I need to sign in when I come to the Centre?

In case someone tests positive for Covid 19 after attending a lesson at the Centre, in which case we will need to contact everyone there at the time.

My pony has been retired, who will I ride?

We will select a suitable pony of similar type for you to ride.

How many ponies and horses do you have now?

We have eighteen in total.

What have the ponies and horses been doing since lock down?

They have been out in the fields and will need to gradually rebuild their fitness before being used in future riding lessons.

Is there a new riding weight limit?


What if I am too heavy?

Anyone who has unfortunately put on weight during lockdown, and exceeds our maximum limit, will be encouraged to lose weight sensibly before being able to ride again.

Will I be able to ride with my usual team (coach and helpers)?

It is very unlikely that riders will be able to return at their usual time and ride with their usual group of friends for the foreseeable future. It is possible however that they will know some of their helpers.

Will I be able to ride with my friends? See above.

Can I come and visit my favourite pony?

We are hoping to organise some visits during the summer.

I need lots of help when I ride, when can I come back?

This will all depend on how the social distancing rules are relaxed going forward. It may be necessary to consider unmounted opportunities for a while.

I can bring a ‘horsey’ friend with me when I ride, can they help?

Help can only be given by a family member from the same household or a carer, after undergoing training.

I can bring a member of my household with me when I ride, can they help?

  1. Coach and independent rider sessions, as per our previous advice
  2. Coach and one rider with up to four helpers made up of:-
    Members of the rider’s household who have completed the basic training record sheet and can support with close contact e.g. mounting and side-walking
    and / or
    Group volunteers who will need to socially distance from anyone who is outside of their household
  3. Coach and more than one rider with support, up to a maximum of six people in total, with social distancing for anyone outside of a person’s household

Whilst groups can now have up to six people at sessions, please make sure only those who are needed for the session attend to reduce the risk of contamination.

I am anxious about riding again, can you help?

It would probably be helpful to attend an unmounted session first and get used to the environment again.

I’m not sure if I want to return to regular riding, can I come and try it?

We will consider each person’s needs and offer more individual lessons at first, which should help confidence building.

Will I be able to ride at the same time and day as before?

In most cases this is unlikely. It will be necessary to be as flexible as possible on when you can ride again.

I have changed schools and will need to ride on a different day/time, will that be possible?

Options are going to be very limited for the foreseeable future so the more flexible you can be, the better chance there will be of riding again.

Why are you putting the prices up?

As you are aware, the Centre has had to remain closed since mid-March and has suffered a massive loss of income from both BHR and RDA lesson cancellations, whilst continuing to have to cover considerable fixed costs as one of the largest RDA Centre’s in the country.

Prior to the lockdown we were already planning a price increase because we could no longer afford to run the Centre on what we were earning. There has unfortunately been a huge reduction in the availability of grants, especially to cover running costs, in recent years.

What if I can’t afford to pay the new price?

I’m afraid that the price increases are essential if the Centre is to survive into the future.

There might be an opportunity to apply for grant funding from an outside charity, but this can be a difficult process.

What measures have been put in place to keep everyone safe?

The Centre will have undergone a deep clean.

A one way system will be set up.

Everyone will be required to use the hand sanitiser provided on the way into the building and also when you leave.

All door handles, toilets etc will be regularly cleaned.

All tack will be cleaned between riders and all riders will be asked to wear their own hats and a clean pair of gloves on each visit. If you have to borrow one of our hats, it will be disinfected between every rider.

Numbers of people present at any one time will be kept very low.

What if I forget to social distance, or follow other guidance, when I am at the Centre?

You will be reminded how important these measures are for everyone’s safety including your own. If you are unable to follow the guidance, you will be required to leave the Centre immediately.

How often will ‘busy’ areas of the Centre be cleaned?


Why do I need to wear clean gloves when I ride?

This is necessary to avoid any risk of the transfer of the virus from you to another rider using the same reins / tack.

Can I still borrow one of your hats?

Whist we can disinfect our hats between riders, this will be a difficult process to control effectively as the Centre becomes busier. It is therefore preferable for as many people as possible to buy their own hats.

I want to invest in my own riding hat, what should I buy, where from?

Please do not buy a hat off the internet without having it properly fitted! A badly fitted hat can be harmful.

Please go to a specialist shop where a trained staff member can measure you for the correct size. Champion Junior Skull hats are what we tend to buy, or Charles Owen hats that can be more expensive but fit some people’s oval shaped heads a little better.

Places like: Patrick Pinkers in Latteridge (they offer our riders a discount with proof that you do attend the Centre), Equicraft in Backwell, Go Outdoors, Murphy’s near Weston Super Mare

Will I be able to cuddle my pony?

Yes, ponies are not susceptible to Covid 19

Will I be able to ‘high 5’ my helpers?

No, you will need to maintain a safe distance from helpers therefore this needs to be avoided. Perhaps just an ‘elbow nudge’ without facing each other, but best to keep at safe distance.

If I can’t ride yet, can I come and watch?

We will not want people to come to the Centre to watch, at least in the short term because we need to keep numbers visiting as low as possible to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.


Can my family, carer and friends watch me ride?

Providing social distancing is maintained, one or two people could watch, keeping correct social distancing, especially for private lessons.

When will special school groups be able to return to riding?

Possibly not until next year, or at the earliest, later this year.

Where will we be able to ride?

We can run lessons in the indoor and outdoor arenas as well as hacking outside through the woods and fields.

I need some help and support to mount/dismount, will that be possible?

This will depend on how much help you need and whether your family, or carers are willing to be trained to help with close contact roles such as mounting and dismounting, adjusting girths and stirrups and side walking.

I need to use the hoist to mount/dismount, will that be possible?

I think that you will need to be patient whist the risks remain quite high.

I would like to try riding on the simulator before a live horse, will that be possible?

The simulator will need to be moved into a more open area before it can be used. This is something we are considering, but the hoist would not be available then.

How much notice will you give me before I can restart?

We will aim to keep in touch regularly with all our RDA riders once lessons start again, whether they are in a position to return or not.

However, if an opportunity arises for a lesson, you might be offered a chance to ride at quite short notice.

Will there be any in-house RDA competitions this year?

This will need very careful consideration, even if we only invite our own riders. I think it is unlikely until next year.

When will we be able to jump again?

Our horses need to gradually get back to full fitness before we introduce jumping within lessons, in order to avoid unnecessary injuries.

I have not been very active during lock down and would benefit from a gentle start to riding, will that be possible?

All our riders will need to build up their fitness gradually after such a long time so lessons will be designed to reflect this and may be for a shorter time than usual.

Why do I have to go back to basic riding exercises, when I could do much more before lock down?

Just like our horses, riders at all levels will need to gradually build up their fitness again.

I am not ready to return to riding yet, will you hold my place?

I think that we would reserve the right to offer the place to those who are ready to ride. However we would certainly look for suitable options once you are in a position to come back

I have been on the waiting list for a long time; how much longer will I have to wait for a place?

A lot will depend on the take up of places by our existing riders. However, there may be the potential, for some people on the waiting list who require very little help, to be offered an opportunity before long.

Will there be an Open Day this year?

I think this is extremely unlikely.

Will there be a Nativity this year?

Such decisions will need to be made nearer the time, but it seems unlikely at present.

Has the £150K appeal been reached?

Unfortunately, despite the generosity of many of our supporters, we have not managed to raise anything like the full sum we needed. There are so many charities and businesses suffering as a result of the pandemic that this is not a surprise.

It is another reason why the price rises are essential.

I have contributed to Avon while not being able to ride, will I be able to restart earlier?

Whilst anyone who has contributed funds to the Centre during lockdown is very much appreciated, and might feel justified in getting preferential treatment, such decisions will need to be made on who can ride again safely, within current RDA and Government guidelines.

What happens if there is a surge in Covid cases?

There is certainly going to be a possibility that the Centre will have to cancel lessons again if this happens, depending on whether the rise is in our area.

What should I do if I restart riding, and then get Covid symptoms?

Do not come to the Centre if you have any symptoms and inform us immediately!

Can ponies and horses catch Covid?

No there is no evidence that they can.

Can ponies and horses spread Covid?

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) the current spread of Covid-19 is a result of human-to-human transmission, and, to date, there is no evidence that companion animals play a significant role in spreading the disease. To date, there have been no reports involving horses.

Can I pay for my lessons when I come to the Centre?

No, all lessons must be pre-paid.

Why do I need to prepay for my lessons online?

We will have a very small staff team at the Centre in future and no one permanently on Reception therefore prepayment will be necessary for all lessons.

There will also be no refunds for missed lessons

Will I be able to volunteer before or after my lesson?

We will not be encouraging people to stay at the Centre either before or after their lessons for some time to come. This will allow us to prevent too many people congregating together.

Will I be able to meet up with my friends at the Centre?

Please see answer to previous question.

I have been doing some of my DofE activities (skills, physical, volunteering) at the Centre, will I be able to complete them?

It will be up to the individuals to get in touch and tell us the time scale within which they need to complete their chosen activity.

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