DETERMINED Zia Clayton has once again risen to the task in hand having taken part in the 2.6 Challenge to raise funds for Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).
Zia, who has Cerebral Palsy and Lupus, has been riding with RDA for ten years as a form of therapy to ensure she stays mobile and supple.
Riding allows her to take part in a sport in which she feels equal and can achieve and compete against others across the UK.
Having previously competed at the RDA National Championships based at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, Zia now rides at the RDA National Training Centre near Warwick, which is currently closed due to the pandemic.
Although the lessons have ceased, there are still mounting costs for caring for the horses and Zia said: “As a rider at the centre, I really wanted to give something back and help support the horses in these uncertain times, as RDA is very close to my heart.”
In a bid to raise these funds, Zia took part in a 2.6 Challenge – starting on Sunday, April 26 – the day the London Marathon was supposed to be held.
The challenge continued for four days, with Zia walking a total of 2.6 miles across uneven ground – a task she found extremely difficult due to her disabilities which can make Zia very unbalanced and unsteady on her feet – as well as causing extreme fatigue.
“I had seen people were taking up challenges in support of charities across the UK. I thought this would be a great opportunity to do something for the centre that has helped me for so many years,” added Zia.
“I knew it was going to be difficult but the rain really added to this. I even had a little hiccup on my last lap of the field on day four and lost my footing, but it was OK as I got straight back ‘on the horse again’ as such and carried on to the finish. I totalled 8,020 steps across the four days which is huge for me.
“I really miss Benjie, the horse I ride. We have an amazing partnership and he makes me feel free. The horse’s legs are my legs when I ride.
“They really are great therapy for your mind as well as body as it is difficult not being able to go for my weekly riding lesson.
“After weeks of being at home and unable to ride, I can really see how much it improves my strength and balance.
“I wanted to do something to help the centre to ensure the horses are well cared for in these uncertain times so they can carry on with the amazing work they do which helps so many people.”
As well as providing life-changing activities for local disabled riders, the RDA National Training Centre is also the central hub of the national RDA charity.
It helps support the training of the 18,000-strong volunteer workforce and provides a space for the local community to hire for functions and events as well as riding.
The venue was recently offered for the Australia Day fund-raiser organised by the Eventing Riders Association of Great Britain to support the equestrian community affected by fire in Australia in January.
Zia’s challenge helped to raise hundreds to support the 12 horses at the centre, with donations continuing to come in. There are still a number of 2.6 challenges taking place, with the team who care for the horses and some close friends also jumping at the opportunity to raise vital funds to support the horses.
These include a skipping challenge for 26 days and running 2.6 miles in fancy dress. If you would like to help support the team, visit their JustGiving page and make a donation at justgiving.com/campaign/rda-nationaltrainingcentre-crisisfund.