There is widespread delight in Berwickshire at the news that Margaret Morgan, a stalwart of the local Riding for the Disabled Association group, has been made a Member of the British Empire (MBE).
The Berwickshire RDA group has been going since 1982, and Margaret joined in 1985 after she heard that it was short of helpers.
“The first day I took myself, the next day I took myself and my horse, then it was myself, my horse and my daughter’s pony, and so it went on,” said Margaret.
When the coaches left, Margaret took over and went on every course she could get.
“It was a very steep learning curve,” she admits.
Margaret’s daughter Rebecca had been involved in vaulting on horseback, and when one of Jenny Leggate’s vaulting horses retired, he joined Rebecca at the Berwickshire RDA, where they started to teach vaulting as well as riding. “We have a lot of children on the autistic spectrum, and they get so much more freedom when they are vaulting rather than just riding,” said Margaret.
“For those with ADHD, you can give them instant speed, and get them cantering quite quickly. They learn to make their own risk assessment and what they can and can’t do.”
Adults and children with a variety of different medical conditions have benefited from being part of the RDA family at Reston.
Alison Tams, of Coldstream, is one of them.
“I first met Margaret Morgan in 2002, when, having been advised that riding might help relieve the debilitating effects of peripheral neuropathy, I joined her evening group in the newly completed indoor riding school,” said Alison.
“I continued to ride weekly under Margaret’s instruction until 2013, by which time I was well into my 70s. The fact that I am still walking, albeit slowly, is due in no small part to the exercise and physiotherapy I received during all these sessions.
“Over her years of working with the RDA, Margaret has developed an almost uncanny sixth sense of what a rider needs and what a rider could be capable of achieving.
“She uses every opportunity to share this knowledge.
“I have watched with professional admiration her wisdom and skill in motivating people with autism, behaviour problems, cerebral palsy and other challenges. She knows when to be tough and when to encourage, when to prod and when to praise.
“Margaret has that extra touch and goes well beyond the extra mile.”
Margaret, 68, insists that, despite being made an MBE for services to the Riding for the Disabled Association, the success of the group is down to a combination of hard work by the volunteers, horses and ponies, and riders themselves.
“I am so very honored to receive an MBE and still cannot quite believe it,” she said.
“Thank you to everyone for their congratulations and kind messages. However, it would not have been possible without the support of so many loyal volunteers, the brilliant horses and ponies, the many riders and vaulters and, of course, my family who have made it possible for me to devote so much time to RDA.
“It has been an eventful 30 years, and there have been many changes in RDA in that time, but at the bottom line the whole idea is to let the horse do his work with as much help as we can give him, so everyone benefits from his company whether riding or just being near him.”