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Riding for the Disabled Association of Dubai

There are many great riding programmes and initiatives in the UAE but one that is very close to our hearts is the Riding for the Disabled Association of Dubai (RDAD).  The RDAD first began in 1998 when Her Highness Sheikha Hassa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the programme by donating 3 of her horses to be used for therapeutic riding.  After a decade of offering therapeutic riding lessons the RDAD now has 10 horses helping approximately 50 children and young adults from many different countries.  Examples of riders’ disabilities include autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, cognitive developmental difficulties, deafness and various learning disabilities.

Known as therapeutic riding or equine-facilitated therapy, Riding for the Disabled uses the horse to achieve a variety of therapeutic goals. History records people with disabilities as riding horses as early as the days of ancient Greece. Even then, it was acknowledged that riding was a way of improving the health of people with special needs.

Today, hippotherapy – physical therapy on horseback – has developed as a medical field recognised by most major countries.

The ability to control a horse as well as one’s own body inspires self-confidence and responsibility. From the beginning, riders learn balance, co-ordination and self-assurance while receiving therapeutic muscle stimulation. The aim is to improve poise, posture, strength and flexibility. The physical benefits come naturally as riding reaches deep muscles not accessible through conventional physical therapy. Riding is also “perceived” as an enjoyable experience, by the students, thereby increasing tolerance and motivation to lengthen the period of exercise.

Exercise in the fresh air, away from hospitals and physical therapy equipment, is something to which a true value cannot be assigned. Confidence is also gained by mastering a skill normally performed by able-bodied people. Other psychological benefits include improved social and emotional intelligence such as, better communication skills, development of patience, emotional control, and self-discipline.

Riding for the disabled DubaiRDAD’S GOAL AND VISION
During our special riding lessons, we come together sharing One Goal – to encourage our riders to be the best they can be, by focusing on ability and not disability. Our aim is to promote the rider’s sense of achievement and to develop their physical, cognitive and emotional abilities.

RDAD’s vision is a purpose-built riding centre – specifically designed for riders with special needs…..no sand to block the wheelchairs, no stairs to climb, enough space to accommodate the special equipment our riders use and a covered all weather riding arena so that the RDAD programme can continue throughout most of the year.

RDAD is a not for profit organisation and relies totally on generous assistance from individuals, UAE based companies, and volunteer help to run the programme. If you want more information about RDAD, would like to contribute or be directly involved with our programme in some way please contact the RDAD Team on lessons@rdad.ae.

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