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Dr Nick Hart has been appointed as the new national Honorary Vet for the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) after being nominated by its members. The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) provides equine opportunities for 25,000 disabled children and adults from at nearly 500 RDA centres all over the UK. The role is a three year appointment.
How long have you been involved with RDA?
“Whilst I have been clinically treating the RDA horses for several local groups since 2003, I responded to a request for veterinary volunteers to form a network of ‘RDA Regional Veterinary Advisors’ in 2017. Alongside Amy Barstow (former RVC student and staff member) I became the Regional Veterinary Advisor for the Greater London groups at this time. This role involves attending the regional events such as the regional qualifiers (for the National Championships) or training days to provide veterinary cover for the competing horses; advising groups on health and welfare issues (weight management, vaccinations etc); and being part of the veterinary team at the National Championships.”
What motivated you to get involved?
“The RDA is a fantastic charity that does so much good for local communities. I strongly believe in the values of the RDA and the work that it does so it is a privilege to be able to use my skills to support them.”
What does the role involve?
“The role is multidimensional – policy setting, clinical care at competitions and educational. One of the major parts of the role is organising the veterinary care of the horses at the National Championships, the flagship RDA event. Held annually at Hartpury in July, unfortunately due to Covid-19, this year’s event has been cancelled. Instead I have been involved in advising on the care of the horses during the lockdown period (eg weight control whilst they are not in regular work!); updating groups with the latest advice about what work vets are able to perform, and what measures people can take to reduce risk of Covid-19 during a veterinary visit. I am currently on the steering group that is determining policy for groups getting started again after lockdown.”
Are there any special considerations for equine health management for the RDA?
“Not really - Every RDA Group has different equine needs, from sedate ponies, to weight carrying cobs, to athletic competition horses, that can take part in a range of disciplines from Riding to Carriage Driving, Vaulting to Show Jumping and Endurance. Whilst groups needs differ depending on their participants, all RDA horses and ponies need to be fit, healthy, sound, athletic and able to adapt to the lifestyle at an RDA group.”
What you hope to achieve in the role?
“I am delighted and honoured to be appointed as the RDA Honorary Veterinary Surgeon. Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has altered plans, I am relishing the challenge of helping to find a way through the crisis and ensuring that the horses are fit and healthy for when activities start again.”
Nick graduated from the RVC as a vet in 2003 and has held several roles within RVC Equine. He is currently part of our RVC Equine practice vet team and looks after New Business and Practice Development.