Opportunity to join Coaching Committee

Could you play an active role in shaping the future of Coaching at RDA?
We are looking for an experienced and qualified coach (not necessarily in equestrian) to join our Coaching Committee. This voluntary position will involve helping to implement our coaching strategy with the aim of developing and promoting coaching within RDA.

The committee meets 3 times a year, usually at RDA National Office in Warwick or by teleconference.

Please see the Terms of Reference Here: Coaching Terms of Reference

For further information or to register your interest please email Fiona Harris at fharris@rda.org.uk

Page Last Updated: May 22, 2017

Work For Us At RDA National Office

We have two exciting opportunities to join the staff team at RDA National Office, please see the job adverts below for full details.

The application deadline for both roles in Wednesday 31st May.

Coaching Qualifications Coordinator

Riding for the Disabled (RDA), Warwick

Summary of Job:
We are seeking a new member of staff to play a key role in supporting RDA coaches in delivering an excellent service to our riders.

This role is an excellent opportunity for someone who prides themselves on their administrative capabilities and organisational skills, and is keen to develop these further.

The main responsibilities of the role include:

  • Administering all RDA coaching courses and qualifications
  • Organising and making all administrative arrangements for coaching related events
  • Handling day-to-day enquiries from coaches and ensuring the coach review system is maintained.

About you:
The role is primarily office based and we are looking for someone with excellent administration skills; in an ideal world you will have coaching and/or equine knowledge.

You will need to be organised and self-motivated, being be able to manage your time effectively; providing telephone and email support to coaches and RDA groups, whilst working on a varied range of administrative tasks.

It is important that you are a confident communicator with exceptional customer service skills as you will be providing advice and guidance to our coaching workforce on a regular basis.

About Us:
RDA is a leading national charity, dedicated to enriching the lives of disabled people, through the provision of opportunities for riding, carriage driving and vaulting.

Our mission is to enrich the lives of disabled people through horses and our team at National Office work closely with our coaching workforce to ensure our groups are able to provide an excellent experience for those who take part in our activities.

This is a permanent full-time role, working 34 hours per week, although flexibility will be needed leading up to events, with extra hours covered by time off in lieu.

Salary is £20,000 per annum plus benefits.

Please ring Claire on 01926 405969 or email her on cmilican@rda.org.uk for a full job description. To apply please send a CV with covering email to cmilican@rda.org.uk.

Group Support Administrator (Maternity Cover)

Riding for the Disabled (RDA), Warwick

Summary of Job:
We are seeking a new member of staff to play a key role in supporting RDA groups in delivering an excellent service to our riders.

This role is an excellent opportunity for someone who prides themselves on their administrative capabilities and organisational skills, and is keen to develop these further.

The main responsibilities of the role include administrative support in three key areas:

  • Administering the service providing disclosure checks for volunteers
  • Providing administrative support in the delivery of an RDA national equestrian competition, held in July
  • Organising the collection of information and annual statistics from our 500 member groups and ensuring our database is kept up to date.

About you:
The role is office based and we are looking for an excellent administrator.

You will need to be organised and self-motivated, being be able to manage your time effectively; providing telephone and email support to our groups whilst working on a varied range of administrative tasks.

It is important that you are a confident communicator with exceptional customer service skills as you will be providing advice and guidance to our volunteer workforce on a regular basis.

We also value adaptability, we are looking for someone who will enjoy working on new projects and the challenges associated with a varied workload.

About Us:
RDA is a leading national charity, dedicated to enriching the lives of disabled people, through the provision of opportunities for riding, carriage driving and vaulting.

Our mission is to enrich the lives of disabled people through horses and our staff team at national office work closely with our network of national volunteers to ensure our groups are able to provide an excellent experience for those who take part in our activities.

This is a temporary role, providing maternity cover, working 34 hours per week although flexibility will be needed leading up to events, with extra hours covered by time off in lieu.

Salary is £18,000 (pro rata) per annum.

Please ring Matt on 01926405966 or email mcobble@rda.org.uk for a full job description. To apply please send a covering letter and your CV to mcobble@rda.org.uk



Page Last Updated: May 23, 2017

First #BigRideRDA completed in East

Sunday 9 April, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon

The first RDA Big Ride kicked off in glorious spring sunshine on Lord and Lady de Ramsay’s estate near Huntingdon, more famous for hosting the Secret Garden Music Festival. Five disabled riders along with five supporting riders and RDA Chairman Sam Orde mounted up, most of them on trusty RDA ponies and set off into the countryside.

For some this was their first ride of this kind. Young rider Louis who is waiting for a liver transplant had spent a frustrating two hours that morning failing to catch his pony. Luckily he was able to borrow a brilliant grey pony Mifty. As he had only ridden this pony once before in an RDA session, Louis planned to do 2 miles and was delighted to complete 6! When asked ‘What do you like to do when you are not riding? Louis answered ‘riding’.


Sam Orde and Louis

Para dressage rider Olivia was also on a borrowed horse as she continues to crowd fund for a new advance medium dressage horse (www.gofundme.com/oliviacornickdressage to see how much riding means to Olivia after major brain surgery and subsequent challenges). Two riders rode using one hand: Para dressage rider Eleanor and para vaulter Lizzie. Lizzie put 100% effort into completing the 6 miles and had to wait a while for energy to come back into her legs at the end. Claire Cooper a rider with Downs Syndrome took up the challenge to complete 2 miles and got a good cheer on doing so.

There was a great support team and one volunteer walked and ran the whole way to help riders achieve their challenge safely. The ride was organised by Woodhurst RDA Group who raised funds for their group with 100s of  riders setting of before the Big Ride. Many of the Big Ride team came from Cambridgeshire College RDA Group along with others from across the East Region. RDA volunteers put in a lot of work to organise it beautifully.

Sam Orde said ‘It is brilliant to have the first Big Ride successfully completed. All who took part had wonderful rides in glorious sunshine. The RDA riders achieved something new while helping fundraise for the RDA National Training Centre. I am really excited about the next 17 rides happening across the UK’

Support Sam’s #BigRideRDA at mydonate.bt.com/events/bigride2017/432482

Find out more here: www.rda.org.uk/join-sams-big-ride/

Page Last Updated: April 20, 2017

Nominations for 2017 RDA Gala Awards are now open!

Celebrate achievement by nominating RDA riders, drivers, volunteers and horses for the 2017 Gala Awards.

Winners will be presented with their awards at the RDA Gala Dinner on 26 September 2017 at The Underglobe, London.
Hosted by Clare Balding and attended by Alastair Stewart, Anneka Rice and Peter Egan.
Closing date for nominations is 22 July 2017.

Page Last Updated: April 10, 2017

Join Sam’s Big Ride

sam orde picRaising money for RDA’s National Training Centre, The Big Ride will see RDA UK Chairman, Sam Orde, complete rides or carriage drives in each of RDA’s 18 regions throughout the summer.

Travelling an average of 15km for each ride, Sam will be joined by RDA members and supporters en route.

“I can’t wait to begin this challenge, which will take me from the Highlands to Northern Ireland, Wales, the South Coast and everywhere in between. I hope to raise lots of money for the National Training Centre, and I am encouraging RDA members to join one of the 18 rides or carriage drives and raise money for their own groups too.”

Find a ride near you:

East Region  Sunday 9 April redman.tessa@gmail.com
NE & S Yorks  Wednesday 31 May bobjude@btinternet.com
Yorks & Cleveland  Sunday 28 May clairepope184@hotmail.com
South  Monday 12 June flochrane@btinternet.com
South East  Wednesday 28 June gilly_roper@btinternet.com
South West  Tuesday 1 August sue@schumacher.com
South Wales Friday 4 August judith.england@btconnect.com
Northern Ireland  Sunday 20 August rdaniregion@yahoo.co.uk
Yorkshire & Cleveland (ride 2) Wednesday 23 August purpletracy@hotmail.co.uk
W & Central Scotland  Wednesday 13 September susanduncanmillar@hotmail.com
Grampian & Highland  Sat 9 September gandhrda@aol.com
North West  Sunday 17 September sheilas@nantwichcc.co.uk
North Midlands  Friday 22 September dencorrall@gmail.com
North Wales  12/13 October rdanwaleschair@outlook.com
West Mercia  Tuesday 17 October anonamay@btinternet.com
Mid West  Sept/Oct lizzieblair@btconnect.com
Greater London  Sept/Oct mike.locke@outlook.com
North  tbc carolebarr2@aol.com
Edinburgh & Borders  tbc lawhittaker@live.co.uk

For general information contact Sam: orde@btconnect.com

To donate to Sam’s Big Ride visit: mydonate.bt.com/events/bigride2017/432482

Page Last Updated: June 23, 2017

British Blind Sport and RDA launch guide to visually impaired equestrian sport

British Blind Sport and RDA are working in partnership to better understand of the needs of visually impaired people when accessing equestrian sport. With support from Sport England, the two organisations have collaborated on a research project to identify new insight about the barriers to taking part in horse riding that people with a visual impairment can face, and to better understand the support that coaches feel they need, in order to deliver equestrian activities for VI people with confidence.

Insight gathered from the research project has been used to produce a new educational resource, titled ‘Guide to Visually Impaired Equestrian Sport’.

The new guide is designed to educate coaches, leaders and staff at equestrian centres across the country about sight loss and the needs of people with a visual impairment in equestrianism. It also provides recommendations on how they can adapt their equestrian opportunities to make them more suitable for VI people.

British Blind Sport and the RDA are proud to launch the new guide, and hope it will encourage more people with a visual impairment to take part and enjoy equestrian activities, such as horse riding and carriage driving.

The report will be distributed to all RDA groups. To access a digital copy of the resource visit: www.rda.org.uk/coaching

Page Last Updated: March 30, 2017

Make a Splash for RDA at the Lions Charity Raft Race

Wellesbourne & District and Shakespeare Lions Clubs are raising funds for RDA UK at the 2017 Raft Race.
Sign up today – Get a team together, build a raft then put the fun into fundraising by paddling your raft down the River Avon to Stratford on
Sunday 23 July 2017
a definite date for the diary!!
Find out more   http://www.raftrace.org.uk/  Tel: 07590 387 204 or email enquiries@raftrace.org.uk

Page Last Updated: March 14, 2017

RDA is People’s Postcode Lottery Featured Charity of the week

We are really pleased to be the featured Charity of the week of People’s Postcode Lottery. It’s incredible to think that over the past 3 years players have raised a total of £1.4m for RDA! Thank you so much for your support. Read more about our feature at https://www.postcodelottery.co.uk/about-us/news/four-legged-friends



Page Last Updated: February 14, 2017

RDA to feature at NAIDEX 2017

NAIDEX is Europe’s biggest and most far-reaching trade, professional and consumer show dedicated to the care, rehabilitation and lifestyle of people with a disability or impairment.RDA is an official partner for NAIDEX 2017 and will feature throughout the event.  Visitors can experience the thrill of riding the RDA mechanical horse and chat to our staff and volunteers about how they can become involved in our activities, providing life changing therapy through horses.

The show takes place at the NEC, Birmingham 28-30 March 2017  and is free to attend.  Find out more www.naidex.co.uk


Page Last Updated: January 27, 2017

RDA National Training Centre plans to be revealed at BETA International 2017

Come and visit the RDA stand at BETA International 22-24 January 2017, the NEC Birmingham to learn more about RDA’s exciting plans to build the first National Training Centre. See us on Stand D7.7 and find out how you can help support this important project.  Download the RDA NTC Brochure  contact Sal Atkinson  satkinson@rda.org.uk or call 01926 405975.

Page Last Updated: January 20, 2017

Get your tickets now for the British Dressage Para Symposium

Held at Moulton College in Northamptonshire on 28 – 29 January 2017 and supported by Sport England funding, the two-day conference is open to everyone wanting to develop their skill and knowledge in para sport and coaching.

Dubbed ‘Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork’, the schedule boasts two interactive days packed with practical demonstrations and thought-provoking presentations. Great Britain is proud to be the world leader in para dressage and we have an impressive array of talent to call on for this weekend, as well as leading experts from other sports.

More details and the timetable can be found at: Click here to view the timetable and secure your tickets today. Tickets start at £30

Page Last Updated: January 17, 2017

New Fundraising Co-Ordinator vacancy

RDA UK is recruiting a new member of staff to join the Fundraising Team at National Office. We are looking for an energetic, enthusiastic fundraiser to develop the support we provide for RDA Groups across the country. This full time role is based at our office in Warwick and will involve a certain amount of travel around the UK, visiting Groups and providing fundraising advice.

To find out more download the
Fundraising Co-ordinator Job Description and How to Apply
Closing date for applications is Monday 6 February 2017. Interviews are on Friday 10 February 2017.

Page Last Updated: January 16, 2017

BEF Chief Executive and RDA Honorary Treasurer to ride Mongolian Derby for RDA

British Equestrian Federation Chief Executive Clare Salmon and her husband Neil Goldie-Scot – who has recently been appointed as Honorary Treasurer for RDA – have announced that they are to ride in the Mongolian Derby in 2017 to raise money for RDA.

The announcement was made during Clare Salmon’s speech to delegates at RDA’s AGM, where she discussed the ‘Future of Equestrianism’. Clare has been in post at the BEF since July and the news of her support for RDA was warmly welcomed by attendees from RDA groups around the UK. In rounding up her presentation she joked about ‘lending’ RDA her husband – a reference to his recent appointment to the RDA Board of Trustees as Honorary Treasurer. Neil Goldie-Scot will officially take up the position from December.

“We are thrilled to be taking on the challenge of the Mongolian Derby to raise funds for RDA – it’s going to be a touch uncomfortable racing 1000km over 8 days on small, rather feral Mongolian ponies; sleeping under the stars; with dubious hygiene and possibly unspeakable food, but it’s nothing like the challenges many disabled people overcome on a day to day basis. We hope to raise some funds to bring the redeeming power of horses to a wider audience, and help to enhance the lives of disabled people and their carers as a result.”

During her presentation to the RDA’s 47th AGM, Clare described some of the challenges and untapped opportunities that exist to widen the profile and appeal of equestrian activities in the UK. Key elements of this will involve making more of the health and social benefits, and promoting some of the underrepresented horse sports such as vaulting and carriage driving – all of which was music to the ears of the AGM delegates.

“We were pleased to welcome Clare to our AGM,” said RDA Chief Executive Ed Bracher. “It was a great opportunity to introduce her to our members, and to give Clare the chance to set out her thoughts on the BEF’s future role. The announcement about the Mongolian Derby was a brilliant surprise and we are grateful for the support and commitment that she and Neil are already showing towards RDA.”


BEF Chief Executive Clare Salmon addresses AGM delegates

Page Last Updated: November 22, 2016

Princess Anne awarded for 30 years as RDA President

Milestone celebrated at charity AGM, chaired by Her Royal Highness

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has presented The Princess Royal with a certificate to mark her 30 years as the charity’s President. The celebration took place at the end of RDA’s AGM, which was chaired by Her Royal Highness. The presentation was the culmination of a day of highlights, including talks from BEF Chief Executive Clare Salmon and World Horse Welfare’s Roly Owers.

Having presented many certificates to long-serving volunteers during her Presidency, including several ‘President’s Awards’ at this year’s AGM, The Princess was surprised to receive an award herself. She has been involved with RDA since the charity was founded in 1969 and became President in 1986.

“Naturally, we will be holding a big celebration when we reach our 50th anniversary, but we didn’t want this milestone in our President’s long association with RDA to go un-marked,” said RDA Chief Executive, Ed Bracher.

In a lively day of talks and presentations, delegates from RDA groups across the UK came together at Cheltenham racecourse for RDA’s 47th AGM. BEF Chief Executive Clare Salmon talked about the future of equestrianism in UK, while World Horse Welfare Chief Executive Roly Owers discussed the most pressing equine welfare concerns. Delegates heard from British Blind Sport’s Alaina MacGregor, RDA’s Jen Wathan and RDA rider Megan Pritchard about a project to encourage more visually impaired people into riding.

Julie Elliston from RDA National Office and Donna Jenkins of Stratford RDA talked about new groups and how existing groups can grow. Caroline Ward, Communications Manager at RDA National Office talked about the new project to build a National Training Centre, and RDA Chief Executive Ed Bracher completed the morning’s presentations by looking at the charity’s future strategy.


  • Loriners Education Award: North Pembrokeshire & Cardiganshire RDA
  • Susan Dudley-Smith Award: Jenny Harris
  • National FE Lecturer of the Year: Mike Butcher FRDA
  • President’s Awards: Margaret Morgan, Sue Downer
  • Honorary Life Vice-Presidents: Mark Farmar, Patrick Riley, Susie Elliot
  • Birt Spooner Cup: Patrick Riley


The Princess Royal with members of North Pembrokeshire & Cardiganshire RDA

Page Last Updated: November 18, 2016

Grants for RDA Groups – apply now!

Does your RDA Group need funding for  new equipment, a new project or larger horse?  Then apply now for a grant from RDA UK.  Hurry, closing date is 4 November 2016.  ALL established RDA Groups in ALL locations of the UK are eligible to apply.  Good luck!

Page Last Updated: October 25, 2016

RDA launches project to build a National Training Centre

Project Patrons HRH The Princess Royal and Sophie Christiansen OBE to front fundraising appeal

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has launched a project to build a National Training Centre in Warwickshire. The Centre – to be built at Lowlands EC, near Warwick – will bring together, train and inspire the charity’s volunteers and coaches from around the UK.

The development of a National Training Centre is an exciting and robust response to some of the challenges and opportunities faced by RDA as it reaches its 50th anniversary. In recent years the charity has developed the range of activities it offers as well as the areas of training offered to volunteers (including equine welfare, safeguarding, disability awareness and volunteer management). In addition, RDA’s coaches and volunteers are supporting ever more complex forms of disability, especially in the areas of multi-disability, learning disabilities and mental health problems.

Project Patron and RDA President HRH The Princess Royal said: “As RDA looks forward to the next 50 years, this project to build a National training Centre will draw on all the experience and strength of community at Lowlands to create a vital and inspirational focal point for learning of which we can all be proud.

“RDA has built a world class reputation on the strength of its expertise, coaching and horsemanship. These are strengths that must remain at the heart of everything we do in the coming years. The Lowlands project will ensure we can maintain our high standards and develop our training programmes to ensure the best possible experience for RDA’s riders and carriage drivers long into the future.”

The Centre will be home to the four existing RDA groups that currently operate there; stables and grazing for 20 horses; indoor and outdoor arenas; training and conference facilities; some overnight accommodation and offices. As a working yard with indoor and outdoor arenas and classrooms, the Centre will provide the ideal environment for hosting practical training sessions; workshops and demonstrations as well as events and competitions. The focus of training will be putting riders’ and drivers’ needs first, and this message will be at the heart of everything that happens at Lowlands.

“As someone whose life was transformed by learning to ride with RDA, I am delighted to be able to support this project to create a National Training Centre,” said Project Patron and Paralympian Sophie Christiansen OBE. “I was lucky enough to be taught by a series of inspirational coaches, without whom I would never have discovered a talent for riding.

“RDA could see my potential as a young athlete and supported me every step of the way to the Paralympics. But achievement does not have to be a gold medal. It could be teaching a rider to sit up straight so they can go on to live independently or to be able to communicate to others to help on the journey to employment. Coaches can change lives.”

RDA needs to raise £900,000 to help develop the site at Lowlands EC and is looking for individual and corporate donors. To register your interest in the project, to donate money or to offer equipment or expertise, please contact Sal Atkinson at RDA UK on 01926 405975 or email satkinson@rda.org.uk.

Page Last Updated: October 17, 2016

A night of celebration at RDA Gala Awards 2016

In a spirit-elevating celebration, the fourth RDA Gala Awards dinner once again recognised the outstanding achievements and dedication of RDA participants, volunteers, supporters and horses.

Host Clare Balding (just back from Rio) was joined by ITV News presenter Alastair Stewart and commentator Jonathan Agnew at Draper’s Hall, London. Also joining them (together with their well-deserved medals) were members of the GB Paraequestrian team: Natasha Baker, Sophie Christiansen and Anne Dunham.

The annual Gala Awards celebrates the efforts of all who help to make the RDA charity so special.

This year’s RDA award winners are:

RDA Group Brilliant Idea (sponsored by Automotive Insulation Ltd): Cobbes Meadow RDA for wheeled steps.

Business Partnership (sponsored by British Equestrian Trade Association): Cowan Architects for ongoing, innovative support for RDA South East

Most Improved Participant (sponsored by Childs Farm): Katherine Swan of Bradbourne RDA

Horse or Pony of the Year (sponsored by SnuggyHoods): Mickey from The Brae RDA

Young Volunteer of the Year (sponsored by The Leadership Whisperers): Matt Dalley of Scropton RDA

Volunteer of the Year (sponsored by Godolphin): Charlotte Court of Kitty Barron RDA.


Sam Smedley is a volunteer with Cobbes Meadow RDA Driving Group. His wife, Ros, has a prosthetic leg and was finding it increasingly difficulty to use the mounting block to get into the carriages. Sam set about inventing a solution – wheeled steps with handrails.

Ros was involved in the design process. The steps fit either side of the front wheel of the carriage, with chocks placed at the back wheel of the carriage on the same side when the steps are in place. The three shallow steps have handrails, and volunteers can stand at either side and behind the driver attempting to mount. The steps are sturdy and durable, and the open design means assistance can be given to move a foot or steady a wobble. There is enough room on the top step for the driver to get their feet into the correct position before they step across into the carriage. The steps are light and can be manoeuvred over grass to sand/rubber fibre mix.

The group’s drivers found them easier to use than the mounting block; the only difference is that drivers dismount the carriage facing forwards, as this can be done safely using the handrails.
The steps have cut the time it takes for each driver to get into the carriage, made it safer for volunteers helping the drivers to mount and dismount, and have improved the drivers’ confidence.

The Group has used the steps for approximately 10 months, and nicknamed them ‘Sam’s Super Steps’.

Cowan Architect’s vision is to improve the quality of life across disabilities, including sponsoring the group’s regional events: Regional Challenge Day, Hickstead Dressage and Indoor Carriage Driving.

David Cowan and his management team attend all the group’s events, award rosettes, and help each individual feel proud of his or her achievement. The company’s staff also provides major assistance to regional volunteers. When the region was in need of a PR Officer, Cowan’s introduced Marketing Manager, Joanna Sale, who now volunteers as Regional Publicity Officer. David Cowan also funded Sophie Christiansen’s expenses in speaking at the RDA’s annual conference

As an expert in accessibility design, David Cowan has made a keynote speech at the RDA Supra Regional Conference, and contributed vital information on improving the accessibility of group centres; and

the company’s Managing Director Phill Mumford joined the group’s fundraising panel at the regional conference

In 2016, Cowan Architects added extended sponsorship to fund training for volunteers; offered safeguarding and fundraising training to volunteers;

provided special training by Guide Dogs for the Blind on working with visually impaired participants; designed and provided framed certificates of participation for all competing groups.


Katherine was studying for her ‘A’ levels in 2012, when she had a car accident just before her 18th birthday. She survived the accident, but with brain damage. While Katherine was in rehab near Bradbourne, her mother called to ask if she could ride, having ridden before the accident.

When Katherine arrived, she was in a wheelchair and rode for no more than ten minutes, with two sidewalkers and a leader. Over following three and half years, Katherine got stronger and improved slowly, always progressing. She began riding for longer, with the sidewalkers walking further away until there was just a leader and a coach nearby.

In 2013, Katherine rode her first dressage test at the Regional competition; she had three helpers with her in the arena.

In 2015, she rode an escorted test, and in 2016, rode her first independent test at a Bradbourne competition.

At the 2016 Southeast Region Dressage competition, Katherine competed as a 1a rider and scored an impressive 64.41%. She rode independently in an arena with spectators, flowers and judges in a box. She performed every movement and saluted the judges at the end, all the time completely unassisted.

Katherine works incredibly hard, going to the gym, learning to walk independently. She progressed from wheelchair to scooter and now walks in on the arm of her mother. She has enrolled in a college course in Art, which is what she was planning after her A-levels. Katherine’s family, and especially her mother, has supported her in every way, encouraging her, pushing her, and watching every lesson.

Katherine’s riding position is beautiful; her disabilities all but disappear despite their restrictions on the ground. The group is unbelievably proud of Katherine, her strength of purpose, her determination and her ambition.

Mickey is a very special horse who loves his job. Mickey provides horse riding, carriage driving and hippotherapy lessons to a wide range of clients, and is also trained in back riding.
In November 2015, Mickey began his training to become The Brae group’s first vaulting horse; he now provides his third block of vaulting lessons – an extraordinary achievement in just eight months.

Without Mickey’s hard work and enthusiasm to learn, it would not have been possible for the vaulters to benefit greatly from their lessons. Vaulting has improved the lives of the clients, making a huge impact on their self-confidence, balance, motor skills, flexibility and co-ordination. The sessions allow the team of vaulters to work in a group and give the vital communication skills to be able to work together, particularly when two vaulters are on Mickey together.

Volunteers also benefit massively from Mickey’s extraordinary achievements, excelling in confidence, self-esteem, patience, determination and communication skills. They also built up trust and now have a very special relationship with Mickey. Volunteers who had never seen or heard of equestrian vaulting before, had the chance to learn and ‘have a go’ while teaching Mickey. Seeing vaulters grinning from ear to ear when they are up on Mickey and seeing what these clients gain from just one session makes it all worthwhile. Mickey also helps teach new volunteers the various skills mandatory for the green card.

The Brae is constantly fundraising to raise much-needed funds to keep the centre running and Mickey is a huge help. From posing for photos, to going for adventures in the horse box (including a visit to a local primary School, along with his tie and school bag), Mickey loves every minute of it.

With his relaxed, kind and caring nature, he is loved by many riders, vaulters, carriage drivers, volunteers, staff, visitors and the other horses, of course. Mickey is truly a horse in a million and deserves to be recognised for all his hard work he does and has done for the past four years at The Brae.


Matt is a rider and volunteer, who helps at his group; for his region and for the national organisation. Inspired initially by the other volunteers at his group, he has always been keen to help out whenever and however he can. As a boy, physical jobs weren’t always easy but as he got older he found his computer skills were an asset to the group. Running their website and social media channels, he works hard to promote the group, its activities and the achievements of its participants.

Matt’s group work got noticed regionally, and his regional work got noticed nationally.  And before long he had a list of volunteer roles to his name:
Group volunteer
Regional Participant Rep
RDA UK participant committee member

Unable to ride at this year’s National Championship, Matt instead volunteered over 4 days, setting up, stewarding, providing invaluable support to the communications team and running the social media for the event.

By his own admission, volunteering has been as life changing for Matt as riding has. He has shared his great story to help promote RDA and volunteering. He has talked about what he does at the RDA UK AGM, at the RDA Supporters Reception and in interview to the print and broadcast media.

He achieves all this with a consistently positive attitude and unwavering enthusiasm.

His achievements are remarkable in themselves, but made even more so when you consider that he was born with a congenital brain condition, leading to muscle weakness and co-ordination problems, he is autistic, has adhd, some learning difficulties and is a profoundly deaf sign language user.

His citation reads:
“He overcomes all these obstacles to become a volunteer with RDA and embodies the slogan ‘It’s what you can do that counts’!”


Charlotte volunteered at the Kitty Barron RDA Group for some years, prior to becoming a Group Coach in early 2012.

The Group started more than 50 years ago, supported and organised by the Barron family throughout. However, following Chris Barron’s death as a result of an accident in early 2015, the Group suspended activities.

In those adverse circumstances, (and notwithstanding having a baby on the morning of Chris’ funeral), Charlotte provided the initiative, drive, enthusiasm and hard work to bring about the Group’s resumption in September 2015.
By that time, Charlotte’s input had enabled the Committee to be reinforced; new helpers recruited; new ponies secured; the indoor school repaired and resurfaced; and the toilet and kitchen facilities refurbished.

In 2016, one of the group’s aims was to get transport to enable participation of riders with the group’s ponies at competitions. The active, lively and happy Group provides an excellent service, and Charlotte had recruited a trainee coach. At the time when the group suspended activities, it was feared that it might close down permanently with the consequent loss of services. It is entirely due to Charlotte that the group has ‘risen from the ashes’ to become a Group that Gloucestershire is, and I am sure Chris and his family would be, proud of.

Page Last Updated: September 30, 2016


Clwyd Special Riding Centre provides people with additional needs the opportunity to ride, carriage drive, or equestrian vault to benefit their health and wellbeing. The Centre has 24 horses and ponies and a new Centre for Equine Learning and Therapy. CSRC requires the following:-

Volunteer Coordinator

£17,500 pro rata 25 hours per week

The Volunteer Coordinator will be required to recruit and coordinate an effective team of volunteers ensuring that Clwyd Special Riding Centre maintains its high standard of service provision.

Closing date: 12 noon Monday 23 September 2016

Invitation to interview will be sent via email Monday 26 September 2016

Interviews will be held on Monday 3 October 2016

Start date: Monday 31 October 2016

For application forms please contact CSRC on 01352 770446 or email: info@clwydspecialridingcentre.org.uk

Page Last Updated: September 15, 2016

2-for-1 tickets for Clare Balding Theatre events

Special offer for RDA supporters to celebrate the launch of Clare’s new book

Ahead of Clare Balding’s appearance at the RDA Gala Awards, where she will be signing copies of her new book, we are delighted to be able to offer 2-for-1 tickets at her live theatre events over the Autumn.

Clare will be celebrating the publication of her very first children’s book THE RACEHORSE WHO WOULDN’T GALLOP at three events in Salisbury, Guildford and Exeter. She’ll be fresh from our TV screens having presented the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio.

Clare will be appearing at Salisbury Playhouse, Yvonne Arnaud and Northcott Theatre for three fantastic events for all the family, including some foyer entertainment. THE RACEHORSE WHO WOULDN’T GALLOP is partly inspired by Clare’s own childhood, so you can expect some fantastic growing-up anecdotes and to hear about her infectious love of animals.

A heart-warming story with a great girl-power message”, Jacqueline Wilson

To claim your 2-for-1 tickets, simply use the codes below either when you book online or when you call the box office.

Salisbury: CLARE

Exeter: RACEHORSE241

For Guildford simply call the Box Office now on 01483 44 00 00 to book.

Please note: Offer on the ticket price only, the price of the book is not included in the offer.

Page Last Updated: September 15, 2016

RDA Trading – new job opportunity

Looking for a new challenge?  RDA is recruiting a part time Trading Co-ordinator responsible for growing sales and income from the RDA online shop and at events. This is an exciting and varied role based at RDA National Office, Warwick. Ideal candidates will have creative flair, enthusiasm and enjoy working as part of an energetic, professional team.
To find out more download the RDA Trading Co-ordinator Job Description.  Visit the RDA online shop at http://www.rdashop.org.uk/

To apply please email a full CV and covering letter, describing why you would be suitable for this role to Sal Atkinson email satkinson@rda.org.uk  Direct Dial Tel 01926 405 975

Page Last Updated: August 15, 2016

Anne Brown’s Championships: Mrs Broon Rides Again….

Last year 2015, I managed, despite the odds, to compete at Hartpury riding an amazing wee 13h 2” cob called Ozzy. I was 11th but I was there!

The journey to get there took from 2009, when I had my first RDA lesson, till then via Bannockburn RDA closing, no horse, no coach, finding Ozzy, Helen Kallow (coach) stepping in to help, qualifying and a fundraising campaign to get me there.

This year was a whole different thing. Firstly Equi-Power Central Scotland RDA have a horse! Jaffa is massive and WIDE! I found out just how wide the day after my first lesson on him. I was like the wishbone that had been pulled. There were bits of me stretched that I didn’t even know I had but gradually we got to know each other and I managed to qualify at West and Central Scotland Regional Qualifiers on 7th June.

Right at the start I knew I wouldn’t be going to Hartpury as Jaffa is Equi-Powers only horse at the moment and lessons on him are oversubscribed. I knew I couldn’t take Ozzy as I’d shared him with Forth Carriage drivers last year and they weren’t going. My coach couldn’t go as her brother had been really inconsiderate and decided to get married that weekend, I mean, really??? Of all the times to pick, Nationals weekend?

It was ok though, I’d been and achieved my ambition but there was a wee sadness as I have Secondary Progressive MS and know that my walking distance is decreasing and I’d have loved to have gone.

Then came the call….WonderKate (Kate Bennet Regional Chair) phoned and asked if I’d like to join their team from Gareloch as Helen Hill had qualified and would love to go. I could share Bobbie with her. Wow, well wait a minute till I think about th…..YES, YES, very much YES!!!!!!

Right there is one of the things I love about RDA, the way individual RDA’s can work together to their mutual advantage.

Somehow I managed to fit in the 3hour round trip to Gareloch four times to get to know Bobbie, fit in a weeks holiday with the grandweans and fundraise with Equi-Power’s help to be able to go.

We were off……. I was living the dream again.

The weekend was amazing. People speak to your face, not your crutches or wheels. Able bodied people seemed to be in the minority which is weird but very comfortable. I was never once asked “Are you alright there?” by someone speaking as if I was a toddler, their pitying head tilted to the side as they rubbed my arm. If I’d fallen on my backside (not uncommon) I’d have been picked up brushed off and sent on my way. No Ambulance called, no accident book produced, no circle of onlookers mumbling about “drinking at this time of day!” I love it.

Anyway how did we do? Well Bobbie or Crossfire (his Sunday name) was a bit overawed by the whole thing. This was all new and scary and he was very vocal in telling us that. We hoped he would settle better for me as he was a bit freaked out with Helen although she came home with a 6th place rosette. She did great on an overawed horse. I had no expectations of any success and just hoped to get him round. I had a mini-meltdown in the morning as my box where I keep all my fears and insecurities opened up wide, but SuperKate gave me her duct tape which she has for emergencies and I was sent to my room to tape the box firmly shut! I’ve kept a piece of it in my purse for future crises when SuperKate won’t be there. When we got in to the arena Crossfire was vocal and distracted by scary things like the photographer with a great big scary camera. I don’t know how, but we managed to get round reasonably well and I was 7th which I’m delighted with. Even if I had been last though, the weekend was worth attending for the massive emotional hug you get. A hug of acceptance and support.

What of Bobbie? If he goes next year he’ll be an old hand and will settle so much easier as he’s seen it all before. Right now he’ll be remembering his success as Crossfire at Nationals and how he managed to do well even though he was worried. He’ll stand a bit taller and prouder knowing he CAN do it and that’s what counts.

Me? My abiding memories will be of SuperKate’s duct tape and how we left the ring to a massive cheer from the audience led by Garioch Carriage drivers, then the voice of Angie Murray shouting “Well done Mrs Broon!” Both SuperKate and I had a wee “moment” as we exited. You can’t beat that! Roll on next year.


Page Last Updated: July 29, 2016

Julie Ashby’s Championships: Glen Miller and Ladypop Kangaroo..

Well there it came and went again, for another year…the RDA UK National Championships. These were as well attended and brilliant, as ever.

The number of competitors and horses attending this prestigious event in the RDA calendar seemed in number, more than ever.

What’s more, the standard of turnout and equestrianism was jaw dropping and perhaps in some ways the best year yet – and this is my 6th year of qualifying and taking part.

Horses and ponies of all shapes and sizes were put through their paces by competent riding talent, at every level. I am reliably informed that Paralympic talents scouts mingle and observe there; possibly picking out our future Paralympian competitors of the future .It is a very exciting thought.

This year, I was just thrilled to actually have made it there. After last year’s Nationals event, I was diagnosed with cancer requiring massive life-changing surgery. I was back riding, in walk only, after 3 months and cantering after 6. Therefore at so many levels, it gave me hope and incentive to stretch my goals, as I had done years ago when first riding with RDA.

I met my equine partner 2 weeks before the event and had a 40 minute getting to know each other session. Ladypop Kangaroo (Roo to her friends) is a beautiful 15.2 HH mare. Incredibly at age 24, she is feisty, strong and knows what’s what! Her owner had cheerily told me that she behaved more like 4 than 24 and he wasn’t far wrong!

We would not meet again until the day of the competition! I was planning to compete in 2 classes, my grade 3 championship class and grade 3 dressage to music. I measured her paces, watching the footage my partner took and planned and practised my music with another horse that I ride locally. This would mean that I would ride the music ( she had never experienced music before)with her for the very first time, in the massive indoor arena, that has seating for over 600 people and a restaurant and bar overlooking the arena. My horse had never been to this event before and consequently had never seen this either – and I did wonder if I was totally crazy.

No not crazy….it is all just life enhancing to me and absorbs my concentration in a way almost nothing else is able to do.

I may not have been placed in the top 4 this year, but I can honestly say that my four-legged partner and I had a blast.

As it turned out, she loved my choice of the Glen Miller theme for our music test and she simply could not have tried any harder for me than she did.

It was all quite simply magical and so special for us both, in a funny sort of way. I would not have changed a thing.


Page Last Updated: July 25, 2016

Party in the Paddock Launch’s Accessibility Mark Arena


Over 700 people attended the Party in the Paddock held at Moorwards Farm Equestrian Coaching facility based in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire.

This is the third year running that Moorwards Farm have held their annual Party in the Paddock but this year had a special significance as it also coincided with the opening of their brand new dedicated Accessibility Mark Arena.

As an Accessibility Mark accredited centre Moorwards Farm have met the criteria and undergone specialised training to be able to confidently provide a service to riders with both learning and physical disabilities to the highest standard as set out by RDA.

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), in partnership with Hoof, the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) participation programme launched the Accessibility Mark scheme to encourage those who do not already partake in equestrian activities or would not usually have the opportunity to do so, to experience the many benefits that riding can bring.

This new arena will have real benefits for riders with special needs who wish to participate in equine related activities, particularly those with autism who can very easily become over-whelmed by their environment, and is a great addition to the facilities at Moorwards Farm enabling year round riding protected from the elements.

Jodie Maile Yard Manager at Moorwards Farm Equestrian Coaching Facility said: “We are proud to be an Accessibility Mark centre and support RDA in their aim to ensure anyone with special needs get the opportunity to interact with horses.”

Events throughout the day included a dog agility display provided by Cippenham Dog Training Club, stunt performer Steve Dent and his horses, plus craft and food stalls and bouncy castles for the children. The new arena played host to a number of demonstrations such as, tent pegging from Skills at Arms, an insight into the world of miniature horses with Kelly Fox and Moorwards Farms’ own Young Equestrians to name a few.

Special guest Alex Uttley from acrobatic gymnast group ‘Spelbound’, winners of Britain’s Got Talent 2010, co-ordinated a stunning demonstration with young gymnasts from London Borough of Hillingdon Gymnastics Club, with all the entertainment provided showing the versatility of the new arena.

The event helped raise funds for charity HorseHeard, who provide equine facilitated learning for children and young adults; this learning develops key emotional and social intelligence skills and increases confidence and self-esteem.

Moorwards Farm Equestrian Coaching Facility also has a café and comfortable training lounges, providing the local community with a place to socialise, hold meetings, start horse riding or continue to develop their skills and have fun, everything from children’s pony parties, to a variety of programmes for all, such as Young Equestrians, Take Back the Reins and Pony Club.

For more information about Moorwards Farm Equestrian Coaching Facility visit www.moorwardsfarm.co.uk/

Cutting the ribbon - left to right Moorwards Farm owner Jodie Maile Noami Isaiah and Amy Caldwell.

Cutting the ribbon

Page Last Updated: July 20, 2016

Matt’s Championships blog day 4

It was our final day of RDA National Championships at Hartpury College with all the action in the classes including Countryside Challenge, Dressage, Vaulting happening today from the riders over the 18 regions in the UK. We are having great time and indeed for the families, supporters, riders, groups are having a blast time over the past few days. Thank you to Hartpury College for allowing us to run the RDA National Championships here with great weather around us over the past few days.

A big thank you to all the Volunteers, Judges, Stewards, Accessibility Team and of course, a great team of RDA Ground Crew – who have worked hard together to make it happen for more than 400 participants including the Riders, Drivers, Vaulters and Showjumpers who came here to have fun and competing and feel proud to represent their group and achieving what they could it that counts. Huge thank you to Katy and the team in the Stables who has been fantastic to co-operating with the brilliant vet team who ensuring the horses to be allowed to enter here and make sure the horses’s vaccinations up to date. Thank you to all the scorers as well as the official photographer who taking loads of photos over all the weekend and the brilliant Health & Safety team who ensuring the place very safe over past few days. Thank you to all the RDA National Staff team who has been working so hard to prepare for the great, inspirational, biggest ever RDA National Championships – what a event!

Thank you to all the sponsors and supporters for their continued support of the RDA National Championships 2016 including Andrew Bowens, Childs Farm, Oliver Wight, Dodson & Horrell, Wainwrights, Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and NAF – for that reason, behalf of all the people at the RDA National Championships, we all would like to say A MASSIVE THANK YOU for the support towards Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) – especially we couldn’t run the Championships without them.

I would like to say a huge thank you to RDA for having me working with them over past few days which has been very rewarding and remarkable experience to tell you how it is great to be one of the Championships volunteers – It’s been so great to sharing some experience with you all to tell you how I enjoyed the RDA National Championships 2016 including taking photos of the visitors, groups, riders, families to say thank you and writing the blog to tell you what we’re up to over past few days, and of course if you haven’t seen the pictures or videos on our Twitter, @RDANational & @TheParaRiderMD to see what we have been up to!!

Good to see the riders from over all 18 regions and come here and feel inspired by what we’re doing with them – Congratulations to all the winners in every class on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We look forward to seeing you all at Hartpury College next year for the RDA National Championships! Have a good safe journey back and don’t forget to tweet and post the photos on @RDANational – our Twitter or Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) – our Facebook Page to share with us – the hashtag #RDAChamps

Thank you for reading our blog so far.

Matthew Dalley
RDA UK Participation Committee
North Midlands Participant Representative
Twitter – @TheParaRiderMD
Facebook – Matthew Dalley – Para Dressage/Jumping Rider


Page Last Updated: July 17, 2016

Matt’s Championships Blog day three

What a another packed day of the Championships with the sunshine around Hartpury College for more than 400 riders who competing here in the Dressage, Countryside Challenge, Freestyle to Music in action today. We see many supporters who feel very happy to cheering on the participants from over the 18 region in the UK. We also see the great enthusiasm from the families who was proud of their rider competing in this big event this weekend. We have seen how busy are the groups in the stables for preparing for the riders to be competed in action!

I have spending time by borrowing the RDA UK Frame to ask everyone who wants to say a big thank you to People’s Postcode Lottery who have donated so much of money towards Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) – including the groups, families, volunteers, horses and only the fantastic RDA National Office team that they wanted to say huge thank you. Our responsibility for today was all about to working with Publicity Team over the day which was really enjoyable thing for me to enjoy as a Championship Volunteer.

We can see how fantastic is the participants feel so happy to competing and having fun with the encouragement from their families, carers, group volunteers and instructors who can help them to reach their potential and show what they can do that counts. We hope you are having so fun over past two days. I am sure you are inspired by what I have wrote over past few days which you are hoping to come and watch what we’re up to at RDA National Championships in next few years.

We have seen how unbelievable is the Costume Freestyle to Music with loads of visitors watching each performance which is really great for the entertainment and guess what is happening tonight that RDA National is planning to showcasing some of our NO Staff are doing some Vaulting – I will be taking photos loads of them – so exciting!!!!

You can also see our fantastic album on Facebook Page of the Championships to say huge thank you to People’s Postcode Lottery for the rest of the photos that I have been taking loads of the photos today.

That’s all for the Day 2 of the National Championships at Hartpury College. One day to go and watch more of exciting things tomorrow including Dressage, Countryside Challenge and Freestyle to Music classes to happen!!!


Page Last Updated: July 16, 2016