Become a
Coach at RDA

RDA is always looking for trained accredited coaches

RDAA provides training to its coaches through an accredited training system in 3 progressive stages:

Level 0

Level 1

Level 2

Hear from our Coaches


Andrea Shoobridge

RDA Trainee Coach

“I am not sure where the coaching path will take me but I will continue on
the journey and see where it leads!”

My name is Andrea and I am a volunteer at the Kingborough Centre, Hobart in Tasmania.
I have always wanted to volunteer with RDA but could never afford the time. In 2017 I had to stop my dream job as a Dental Hygenist fur to injury, which was devastating for me at the time. The silver lining was that this unfortunate turn of events left me with time to investigate the possibility of helping out at RDA. With my love of helping people and owning and riding horses, it was a no brainer to go to an Open Day in August 2019 to see how I could help out.
My main role at our Centre is leading and looking after horses as this is an area I am very comfortable in. I was encouraged to enroll as a Trainee Coach by one of our instructors and I am very glad I did. I have found the content very interesting and also extremely helpful in the foundation knowledge it provides.  I am very much enjoying studying and learning new skills and building on the knowledge I have already gained through horses and dentistry and applying it in a different field. After 35 years in the Dental industry it is a welcome change! I am not sure at this stage where the coaching path will take me, as I am somewhat limited by my hand injuries in some areas, but I will continue on the journey and see where it leads!


Fiona Orr

Level 1 Coach

“As the children step off the bus they are beaming, mirroring the enjoyment on our volunteer’s faces.”

Buzz: 5am alarm

Screech: 6am arrive at the Centre

I swing the metal gate open to RDA Oaklands and begin my pre-dawn ritual. As I drive through and the tyres crunch the gravel, the horses recognise this as their alarm clock and gather at the gate, waiting for their cuddles. They are please to see me and on a cold morning, they nuzzle close with their warm breath against my cheek. This is always a special time I have with each horse and I love getting to know each of their personalities. I make up their feeds and hay, fill their water buckets: breakfast awaits and their routine begins.

Once they are fed it’s time to read my notes on riders from the previous week…and my breakfast!

Although this begins my day, my work really starts on a Sunday afternoon where preparations begin for the week. Quite often the phone starts ringing and messages roll in, mostly when volunteers are unable to attend. This is the most challenging time for me as a Coach. Can I run the sessions? Do I have enough volunteers? Do I have enough horse handlers or side walkers to run safely? Sometimes I lie awake, wondering how it will work out and feeling a sense of
guilt if it doesn’t.

Back to my normal morning: volunteers start arriving, we talk about the arena set up for the day and what activities are needed, whilst other volunteers tend to horses or prepare for riders to arrive. Phone calls from the schools start, letting me know what riders we have coming. The chatter and excitement increases. As a Coach, you welcome their enthusiasm and feel a sense of pride in their commitment to RDA.

Private lessons begin at 8.30am and when I return, all volunteers have arrived ready to start our first group lesson at 9.45am. I welcome everyone with a chat and disperse information about the day, while the horses are warming up and awaiting the bus to arrive with our riders.

Screech and creak: the gate is opening to let in our riders for the day. As the children step off the bus they are beaming, mirroring the enjoyment on our volunteers faces, ready for activities and trail riding. The chatter increases at morning tea with volunteers writing up their notes on a riders’ session, often becoming animated over their progression. The second group arrives by 11.15am, everybody truly in their stride now. Lunch follows before the final group arrives at 1.30pm. During lunch time, I oversee that the horses have hay and water, talk to volunteers about our riders and try to have a quiet moment, usually towards the end of lunch break. Sometimes I need
to hide to gather my thoughts! At times I might have a training coach with me who needs guidance or will need to go through the lesson plan. If it’s a Saturday morning, I enjoy my time sitting with the parents and listening to them. This time to connect and discuss their child is invaluable to me and to them.

Pack up begins whilst the last group is out trail riding. I make sure all the equipment is away and check the horses are fine to go back to paddocks; always taking the time to say good bye to them as they plod back home. As a Coach, I am the last to leave which could be 3.30-4.00pm as I tie up loose ends. Although tired from having walked 12-15km, it is paired with a quiet contentedness, fulfilled with a rewarding day.

Once home, I spend time reading through volunteers notes, adding comments if needed and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Fiona Orr
RDA Victoria


Sally Watson

RDA National Assessor

“I am passionate about RDA, that is why I have been involved since 1988 and I continue to be today.”

RDA Centres play a vital role in the community, not only for the activities provided for the riders and drivers, but for the volunteers. There is a sense of belonging to an RDA Centre, where people from all walks of life can get together to benefit the participants.

Volunteers are well trained in the roles they must perform and this too builds confidence and self-esteem.

RDA National Assessors play an important role in the development of, not only RDA Centres, but the people that work within them too.

National Assessors have 3 roles to play:

  • Mentor
  • Coach Educator
  • National Assessor

As a Mentor, the Centre can be established and guidance given on horse acquisition and training, fundraising, finding a suitable venue and communicating with Disability service groups or schools to find participants for the program.

As a Coach Educator, volunteers are trained the RDA way, the safest way, to handle horses, assist participants and then teach. Suitable, willing coach candidates are trained with expert guidance, allowing for their own individual coaching style to develop. There is a mutual respect between Assessors and Coach Candidates. Coaches must have the respect of the volunteers they are working with too, so it is important that the Centre Committee endorses the candidate for training as a Coach.

As an Assessor, on Assessment day for the Coach Candidate, there will be nerves, deriving from the respect for the Assessor. It is helpful for the Assessor and Candidate to know each other prior to this day to help alleviate the nerves!

I have been in all of the above situations: a new volunteer, not knowing if riders understood English, to a Coach Candidate with a Mentor and then Assessor that I respected but was so nervous of because I didn’t really know them!

As an RDAA Coach Educator and National Assessor now, I try very hard not to make people nervous. This can be very hard and sometimes I have had to hide behind the mounting ramp! Riders can get nervous too if they have not met you before which is why being a Mentor to the Centre can break the ice and help you become more familiar to everyone involved.

My experience in RDA includes begin a Centre Coach, Region Coordinator, State Coach, Mentor, Coach Educator and National Assessor. Without the support of some wonderful RDA Coaches, I would not have had this experience and therefore would not be able to assist riders, volunteers and Coaches as I do today.

I am passionate about RDA, that is why I have been involved since 1988 and I continue to be today.
Sally Watson
RDA Victoria

Sally Watson was acknowledged for her many, many years of voluntary service to RDA, winning the RDA National Volunteer Service Excellence Award in 2018!

How to become a coach

You can apply to become an Assistant Coach from the age of 15 years and must be 16 years of age before completing the qualification. The Assistant coach course is designed for committed volunteers to develop skills and knowledge to support the RDA Centre Coach to deliver group lessons that are safe and free flowing in an enclosed area. It provides an introduction to teaching foundation riding skills, an awareness of adaptive coaching for people with disabilities and best practice horse handling and horse management skills.

A Centre Coach course is designed for candidates with a foundation knowledge of horse riding skills, experience working safely around horses, aptitude for coaching and working with people with disabilities and a demonstrated ability to work within and lead teams. Applicants for Centre Coach must be over 16 years of age and 18 years of age before completing the qualification. They must also be able to demonstrate horse riding skills at Walk, Trot and Canter.

Advanced coaching courses are also available through the Coach Development Framework.

If you are interested in becoming an accredited RDA Coach please contact your local Centre or State Coaching Coordinator. If you have an existing coach qualification, it may be transferrable to the RDA coaching qualification and additional information regarding Recognition of Prior Learning is available from RDA Australia.

Prior to commencing training:

Ensure your local centre management committee has endorsed your training request
Contact your RDA State Coaching Coordinator to register as a Trainee Coach
States will provide information regarding pre-requisites for training, the application process and access to learning resources


To begin your training as an RDA Riding or Carriage Driving Assistant Coach, download the relevant form below and submit it to your State Coaching Coordinator.

Level 0 Riding Application to Train
Level 0 Carriage Driving Application to Train

Fact Sheets

Helmet Standards

Concussion: Riders

Concussion Coaches

Standards for Ramps