A HELENSBURGH charity that provides riding opportunities for people with a variety of health issues and medical conditions has issued an appeal for help.

The Gareloch Riding and Driving for the Disabled group – Gareloch RDA – is looking for volunteers who are keen to help their local community by making a difference to someone else’s life and improving their own.

The charity offers carriage driving at its base at Colgrain Equestrian Centre, as well as riding, horse care, equine facilitated learning, ‘Tea with a Pony’ and more at Ardencaple Farm’s livery yard at the other end of the town.

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Riding with a pony can improve a rider’s muscle tone and posture and help them combat social isolation, develop life skills, experience the outdoors and connect with animals as well as achieving personal ambitions.

At Colgrain the charity is looking for help from people willing to accompany its carriages, either on foot or by bike, when they are out and about – and in particular to open gates and monitor traffic at key access points during the carriages’ journeys.

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And the charity says a variety of help is needed to support its Ardencaple Farm activities.

Elise Nash, from Gareloch RDA’s carriage driving group, said: “Volunteering brings with it challenge, achievement, satisfaction and much pleasure.

“Volunteering with Gareloch RDA offers many different ways to help and support those who participate in our activities – walking, with a bit of a trot sometimes (!)Helensburgh Advertiser: , cycling to accompany a carriage, grooming ponies and preparing for activity, organising riding hats and equipment for sessions, making tea and coffee, being sociable with participants and their families/carers and much more!

“Gareloch RDA Group offers much more than riding these days!”

As well as its one-to-one activities the Gareloch RDA’s volunteers also provide opportunities for community groups in the area to take part in looking after ponies and learning more about the benefits of interacting with them.

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The group was formed in 1976 and now has more than 50 people who attend sessions regularly with the charity.

No previous experience of working with ponies is needed to become a volunteer, so if you think you’re ready to take up the reins, challenge yourself and help others, the group would love to hear from you.

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For more information about volunteering with the carriage driving side of the operation, email Elise on garelochrdacarriagedriving@gmail.com.

To find out more about all the other volunteering opportunities available with the group, email garelochrdasecretary@gmail.com.