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

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

Matt’s Championships Blog Day Two

Starting with RDA National Championships today, we have seen Showjumping, Countryside Challenge, Carriage Driving and other exciting things happening throughout the day, we all have seen over all of the riders with great encouragement booster given by their Group, Families, Supporters which making the riders feel very happy to competing today.

We have over 70 sponsors who supporting Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) to coming to see what the riders doing around the Championships and I am very pleased to be asked to giving a inspiring story talk behalf of RDA UK to tell how it is important to me as a volunteer and rider.

My duties earlier the day, I am part of the RDA Showjumping Steward Team and my responsibility was to open and close the gate for the riders who are competing in the Graded Showjumping and RDA Graded Showjumping and has been doing some filming with RDA Research Team which I will be doing some filming tomorrow. And I will be attending an important meeting later the day with the National Participation Committee to discuss how we can make it better experience for the participants over different 18 regions in next few years.

I could say today has been very good day to have some nice weather for our competition event. We will see more action of Dressage, Countryside Challenge, and this year we’re excited to see the first time Costume Freestyle in Music which is taking place tomorrow afternoon. We would like to say that all of the horses looking very smart from many groups over the great 18 regions and congratulations to everyone who were placed in every classes today in the Dressage, Countryside Challenge, Showjumping, Best Turned out and many more.

We look forward to seeing you again tomorrow for our Day 2 at RDA National Championships from Hartpury College for another inspirational, exciting and fantastic day of competing from all the riders over 18 region who look forward to competing here and enjoying the fun!

Matt Dalley



Page Last Updated: July 16, 2016

Matt’s Championships Blog Day One!

Today, we see the groups are starting to arriving at Hartpury with horses where they are being checked by the Vet Team who carried out the inspection to enable that their horses being allowed to enter the place to compete over next three days where we see the inspirational 400 disabled riders, drivers, vaulters and show jumpers coming from all over UK who have qualified at the Regional Qualifiers. Excitement begins with the Countryside Challenge, Show Jumping and Driving course has been set up – thank you to all the volunteers and the RDA Ground Crew who have been working hard to prepare for this. Groups and volunteers has been already started to bathing and make the horses or ponies looking really smart over next few days in action.

During today, I have been very busy and helped RDA UK team by build the Showjumping course ready for tomorrow, helped to pull the tickets and taking photos behind the scenes of the general things our Volunteers has been so busy today, which you can saw the excitement we bring the Championships to all of you whom coming to watch and cheering on their riders or to support their friends over next three days of competitions. I also have looking into the Art & Crafts which I really liked the decoration and build up ideas towards the theme of this year’s National Championships will be Rio 2016 where we look up to the Paralympian and following their footsteps from the Para Dressage stars such as Sophie Christiansen, Natasha Baker who both out of 5 riders have been selected to represent Great Britain this year for Para Equestrian, Dressage team in Rio. I have been helping the RDA UK staff to be part of the great team who worked hard together to make it happen!

We hope you all are having a fantastic time this weekend, good luck to all of the competitors and hope they bring some happiness to their face to say that this event has been so much to them to qualifying from the Regionals. We would like to see some of the pictures you might want to sharing with us by tweeting or post on Facebook or Twitter by using the hashtag: #RDAChamps that we might to share with everyone who wanted some of the excitement and be inspired to competed this event over next few years. We hope you are enjoying some of our exciting things coming up throughout the weekend and we hoping for the nicest and bright sunshine.

Hope this looking great one!

Matt Dalley 🙂

RDA Regional Participant Rep (North Midlands), RDA National Volunteer



Page Last Updated: July 15, 2016

Biggest event in the world for disabled riders and carriage drivers returns to Gloucestershire

The RDA National Championships returns to Hartpury College Gloucestershire on 15-17 July. Three full days of competition will see over 400 disabled competitors of all ages and disabilities competing in events including dressage, showjumping, carriage driving and equestrian vaulting. The event draws together riders and carriage drivers from all over the UK, all of whom have qualified at regional RDA competitions.

Paralympians including Sophie Christiansen and Natasha Baker started their competitive careers at the RDA Championships, and talent spotters will be on site to pick out future hopefuls among the dressage classes. The event is free to visitors and starts each day at 9am.

Information for RDA groups

Page Last Updated: July 6, 2016

NAF announces partnership with RDA

Equine supplement company will sponsor ‘Best Turned Out’ competition at RDA National Championships

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has announced a new partnership with NAF, which will sponsor the Best Turned Out competition at RDA’s National Championships in July. The sponsorship is the first time NAF and RDA have worked together, and represents the start of a new relationship between the two organisations.

The RDA National Championships is the largest event of its kind in the world for disabled riders and carriage drivers, attracting 400 qualifying competitors over three full days of competition. Best Turned Out is entered by competitors throughout the event and recognises the efforts made by riders and their support teams to ensure horses and ponies (and their riders) look their very best in the arena.

“We are delighted to have the support from NAF for this year’s National Championships’” said Sal Atkinson, Fundraising Manager at RDA. “Best Turned Out is a natural fit for NAF – which helps to keep so many equines in top condition. Our RDA groups take great pride in how their riders and ponies present themselves in competition, and Best Turned Out is a hugely popular part of the Championships.”

NAF commented: “The RDA is such an incredible organisation, the work that they do to provide therapy and fun to people with disabilities is exceptional and is made possible by their amazing volunteers and wonderful horses and ponies. The impact that equestrian activities can have on people with disabilities is extraordinary allowing the RDA to provide so much joy and personal and physical development to everyone involved. NAF cannot wait to further develop their relationship with the RDA.

NAF are extremely honoured to sponsor the Best Turned Out prize and can’t wait to see everyone at the championships to see the effort that has gone into the turn out of the participants, horses and ponies. See you all there!”

The RDA National Championships takes place from 15 to 17 July at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire. The competition is RDA’s flagship event, bringing together hundreds of disabled competitors who have qualified to take part, with over 90 classes taking place over the three days. In the past, the event has provided a springboard for Paralympian’s including Sophie Christiansen, Natasha Baker and Lee Pearson – all of whom started their careers with the support of RDA.

Page Last Updated: July 1, 2016

Andrews Bowen announces Official Partner agreement with RDA

Agreement includes:’ Official Surface Provider’ to RDA Groups, sponsorship of RDA Ground Crew and Gala Awards supporter

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has announced a new partnership with world-leading arena surface specialists Andrews Bowen. The company has supported RDA’s work for many years and has supplied surfaces at RDA venues across the UK, but this is the first time the two organisations have made a formal agreement.

As Official Surface Provider to RDA, Andrews Bowen, whose surfaces can be seen at HOYS, championship showgrounds at home and abroad and were the choice for the equestrian games at the 2012 Olympics will sponsor the Ground Crew at RDA’s National Championships, as well as support the charity’s Gala Awards evening.

David Andrews said: “We have been committed to supporting the RDA for many years, the organisation does great work and its horses and riders deserve arenas that allow them to get the best out of their riding. This partnership is very special and we feel privileged to be able to help.”

The RDA National Championships takes place from 15 to 17 July at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire. The competition is RDA’s flagship event, bringing together hundreds of disabled competitors who have qualified to take part, with over 90 classes taking place over the three days. In the past, the event has provided a springboard for Paralympian’s including Sophie Christiansen, Natasha Baker and Lee Pearson – all of whom started their careers with the support of RDA.

The RDA Gala Awards recognises and celebrates the achievements and commitment of the charity’s riders, volunteers and horses. This year’s event, hosted by Clare Balding, is at Drapers Hall, London on 28 September.

“We are delighted to have the support of Andrews Bowen as official surface provider and sponsors of these two significant areas of activity,” said RDA Chief Executive, Ed Bracher. “Our Championships Ground Crew – staffed entirely by volunteers – is a natural fit for Andrews Bowen. They work tirelessly throughout the event to prepare every competition arena to create the best possible experience for our horses and riders.

“The Gala Awards is a huge celebration of our work and relies on corporate partners to ensure it is a night to remember for everyone involved. We are grateful to Andrews Bowen both for their support of RDA as a whole and the service they provide to our groups across the UK.”

Andrews Bowen technical surfaces have become the first choice across all equestrian disciplines from top level show jumping , dressage and polo through to arenas for the world’s top riders.

Its surfaces have won favour with riders thanks to the 360° thinking behind the technology that delivers support for the horse and performance advantages for the rider. Andrews Bowen’s design team is made up of competition riders and, for them – it all starts with the horse. Its surfaces support horses’ natural movement and provide consistency, for more fluid movement and surer footing.

DSC_8843The RDA Ground Crew

Page Last Updated: June 15, 2016

RDA is recruiting two new Fundraisers to join the team!

Capital Fundraising Officer, Trusts and Grants
Fixed term two year contract
Salary £25,000 + benefits
Based in Warwick 

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA UK) is a dynamic national voluntary organisation delivering opportunities for therapy, achievement and enjoyment to more than 28,000 people with disabilities. Demand for RDA activities is high and in order to meet this demand the current fundraising team is expanding and a new capital fundraising campaign is being launched. This post is a great opportunity to help us provide more opportunities for disabled adults and children to take part in activities and receive life changing therapy through horses. The ideal candidate will have recent experience of leading a successful Capital Fundraising campaign and a proven track record in securing substantial grants from Trusts and Foundations.

This is an exciting role for the right person – a creative, energetic team player. 

The post is a fixed term two year and is full time.

For more information download the Capital Fundraising Officer Job Description
To apply please email a CV and covering letter, explaining why you think you would be suitable, to Tel 01926 405 975. 
Closing date: 24 June 2016

Fundraising Officer, Major Individual Donors
Fixed term two year contract
Salary £25,000 + benefits
Based in Warwick 

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA UK) is a dynamic national voluntary organisation delivering opportunities for therapy, achievement and enjoyment to more than 28,000 people with disabilities.Demand for RDA activities is high and in order to meet this demand the current fundraising team is expanding. This post is a great opportunity to help us provide more opportunities for disabled adults and children to take part in activities and receive life changing therapy through horses. The ideal candidate will have recent experience of securing gifts from high net worth individuals and a proven track record of successful fundraising.

This is an exciting role for the right person – an energetic people person.

The post is a fixed term two year and is full time. 

For more information download the Major Individual Donor Fundraising Officer Job Description  Tel 01926 405 975
To apply please email your CV and covering letter, explaining why you would be suitable for the role, to
Closing date: 24 June 2016

Page Last Updated: June 8, 2016


Accessibility Mark Reaches Landmark

The Accessibility Mark project, a national scheme providing more riding opportunities for disabled people has now reached a milestone with 30 centres up and down the country approved.

Through the Accessibility Mark scheme riding centres can form an association with the RDA, without the requirement to set up a charity, opening opportunities to centres that were unable to set up a charity. Accessibility Mark allows centres to affiliate to the RDA and benefit from their wealth of knowledge with very little change to their current set up.

RDA Chief Executive Ed Bracher said: “It is very exciting to have reached this point in the development of the Accessibility Mark.  The project is allowing more disabled people to get active and experience the benefits of riding.  It is really important that the equestrian industry makes sure that we are accessible to as many people as possible and RDA is proud to be helping this become a reality”.

Most riding centres already teach some riders with disabilities but value the training, support and guidance that Accessibility Mark offers, giving clients reassurance that the centre has been assessed to the high standards set out by the RDA, and ensuring the staff have confidence in their ability to provide a first class service that can be enjoyable to riders of all levels.

The 30 accredited centres are opening up a new avenue for disabled people to access sport and activities in their local area, in support of their local RDA centres who are often massively oversubscribed with an extensive waiting list.

Riding can have a hugely beneficial effect on a range of disabilities, as well as a therapeutic response for those with autism and mental health concerns, and for this reason demand is high.

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that they offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure they provide you with a first class service and an experience that aims to be hugely beneficial. There are currently 30 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

For a full list of Accessibility Mark centres please visit

Page Last Updated: May 26, 2016

Share Your Story This Volunteers’ Week

Love volunteering at RDA?  We want to hear about it.  Maybe you’ve met great friends, learned new skills or achieved something you’re really proud of. By sharing your story you may inspire others to volunteer.

Between the 1st and 12th of June we will be celebrating Volunteers’ Week and as well as spending time recognising the valuable contribution volunteers bring to RDA this is a great opportunity to share with everyone what makes being an RDA volunteer special and rewarding.  

We’ve put together some ways you could help us spread the word.

Social Media

Making use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter is a great way to join the conversation about volunteering.

If you use twitter remember to mention us @rdanational so we can share your news.  You may also wish to include @volunteersweek or #volunteersweek in your tweet.

If your group has a Facebook page you could publish an album of photographs of your volunteers in action or include some snaps of any celebration events.

If photos are your thing you could try using Instagram.  You can include us in your posts by mentioning @rdauk .

Volunteer Videos

Filming yourself can be a brilliant way of sharing your volunteering story.

We want to hear about why you think being an RDA volunteer is great.

You might want to talk about things such as why you think RDA is important, how you got started as a volunteer or what you have learnt along the way.

If you think you could help us by filming a video of your own volunteer story check out our guidelines for making a video which we’ve designed to help you get started.

Email Us Your Story

If social media or videos aren’t your thing we would still really love to hear from you.  Feel free to email your stories to and we will share them during volunteers week.


Page Last Updated: May 25, 2016

RDA and Wooden Spoon launch new fundraising project

Wooden Spoon, the children’s charity of rugby and RDA have launched a new charity initiative to support disabled children and young people across the UK.

In preparation for RDA’s 50th anniversary in 2019, Wooden Spoon have pledged to help the RDA fund a team of horses across the country. RDA is experiencing a growing demand for services amongst older children and needs to increase the number of bigger horses at its centres across the UK. Wooden Spoon aims to help fill this gap.

HRH, The Princess Royal, who is Royal Patron of both charities said: “I am particularly pleased as this exciting initiative combines two of my big passions, horses and rugby. Both pastimes offer a great deal to young people from all walks of life which makes the Wooden Spoon and Riding for The Disabled partnership all the more important

“In today’s world it is important for all organisations to collaborate and this is particularly the case with charities. Collaboration can lead to more of the hard earned income reaching beneficiaries. I have the privilege of seeing first hand, the good work that is done by both charities.”

Wooden Spoon Lead Ambassador, Phil Vickery MBE said: “Last year Wooden Spoon reached the milestone of having granted in excess of £250,000 to RDA projects. This year we hope to make even more of an impact. I am delighted to be involved in this exciting new initiative.”

Long-term corporate supporter of Wooden Spoon, TNT, are the first to sponsor a horse as part of this initiative. Director of Sales, Daniel Vines said: “We are delighted to extend our support to kick-start this exciting new fundraising campaign, supporting Riding for The Disabled Association and Wooden Spoon. Sponsoring a horse for this purpose is a welcome first for TNT and we wish both charities every success.”

Page Last Updated: May 13, 2016

Happy Hooves Making Happy Lives with Accessibility Mark

A Cumbria riding centre has become the latest equestrian establishment to take up a national initiative aimed at providing more opportunities for disabled riders to get involved in sport and activities.

Based just outside Penrith on the banks of the river Eamont, Happy Hooves Riding Centre decided to apply for Accessibility Mark accreditation after owner Alison Noble heard about the scheme through her work as an examining assessor for the British Horse Society.

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.

Happy Hooves offers a wide range of services from the normal individual and group riding lessons to exam training and Own a Pony days using their first class facilities and professional staff, so the Accessibility Mark accreditation is a positive step to provide more riding opportunities for all.

The centre also boasts the use of ‘Mr Williams’, the mechanical horse, and Happy Hooves were one of the first centres to have access to the specialist RDA programme installed on Mr Williams.

Having the use of a mechanical horse is hugely beneficial especially to nervous riders, as they can experience the feel of a horse without the fear of any sudden movement as can occur with a live animal, regardless of how well-behaved they are.

Mr Williams also allows the instructor to correct a rider’s position in a safe environment and benefits those who tire easily, a common problem with some disabilities.

Happy Hooves owner Alison Noble said: “The Accessibility Mark accreditation acknowledges the good standards of practice we aim to achieve and allows us to give something back to the community by opening up more avenues for disabled riders to enjoy the benefits that riding and spending time with horses can bring to people’s lives.

“We aim to specialise in providing opportunities for people with autism and learning difficulties as well as disadvantaged youngsters and those that have been excluded from school, by using horses to  help with social skills, and developing teamwork, which is something people with autism can sometimes struggle with,” added Alison

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that they offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure they provide you with a first class service and an experience that aims to be hugely beneficial. There are currently 27 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

Find out more about Accessibility Mark and a list of the accredited centres by clicking this link:


Page Last Updated: April 12, 2016

Hoof Capital Funding 2016 – Applications open

Are you a centre or club looking to improve your riding establishment in order to enhance participation?

Over the last three years the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) has invested over £500,000 into riding centres and organisations to help increase participation in equestrian sports. The Hoof Capital Funding scheme is provided by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport through the Government agency, Sport England.

The BEF has today launched its 2016 Capital Funding programme and will again provide two schemes, both designed to support the development of equestrian facilities that will contribute to helping increase participation of riding, driving and vaulting in England.

Bids submitted should be for no less than £1,000 and no more than £25,000, whilst the preferred bid level is between £10,000 and £15,000. Grants will be awarded to those projects that can clearly deliver increased participation for equestrianism and have a positive sustainable impact to their local community.

Projects which are awarded funding will need to demonstrate the funded project is able to be completed by 31st March 2017.

 If you are interested in applying for funding, expressions of interest (Stage 1) should be received by the British Equestrian Federation by Friday 29th April 2016.

All applicants will be notified by Monday 9th May 2016 whether their expression of interest has been successful or not. Successful applicants will then be required to submit a full application (Stage 2) by Friday 3rd June 2016. Confirmation will be given to successful applicants after this second stage by Friday 20th June 2016.

For application forms and further information please click here.

Page Last Updated: April 4, 2016

RDA Gala Awards 2016 – Nominations are now OPEN!

Make your nominations now for the 2016 Gala Awards and book your tickets 

Page Last Updated: April 1, 2016

Accessibility Mark Conference Offers Food for Thought for Accredited Centres



The first Accessibility Mark conference took place at Rein and Shine Riding Centre in Wiltshire, on Tuesday 8th March, with representatives from all accredited centres invited to attend.

The Accessibility Mark scheme was launched by Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), in partnership with Hoof, the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) participation programme 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.

The day’s events were designed to offer the chance to share experiences as well as provide the opportunity for continued professional development through a series of talks and practical demonstrations.

Leading the demonstrations was Sally-Anne O’Neill who is one of a team of Accessibility Support Officers, and she has been instrumental in the introduction of Showjumping to RDA and regularly delivers training and events.

Heading to the outdoor arena, the first demonstration focused on warm-up exercises for riders, mounting and dismounting, which is one of the most common problems faced by riding schools providing lessons for disabled riders.

During the second demonstration Sally-Anne got to share her thoughts on her specialist subject, with an insightful demonstration on polework and an introduction to showjumping, this was particularly useful in providing new ideas that centres can bring to their own Accessibility Mark sessions.

Rein and Shine kindly provided the use of two of their ponies during both the demonstrations.

Two guest speakers, Jennie Espiner and Dom Chambers gave informative talks on understanding and supporting students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and the RDA Tracker.

Jennie has worked in education for more than40 years and has been lucky enough to work in a broad range of contexts and settings: colleges, schools, prisons, ex-offender and probation hostels.

As an Action for Inclusion Facilitator for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight she has worked extensively at local, regional and national level to develop provision for learners with additional support needs and particularly those with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

Dom works as a Tracker Manager at RDA National. The RDA Tracker is a simple to use holistic tool, to track and provide evidence of the changes and outcomes that are delivered through riding. The Tracker shows at a glance where and how much change has taken place during the period of riding. Insights from the Tracker can help identify future targets and goals, enabling centres to tailor lessons and activities accordingly. Tracker information can then be shared with family, carers and schools not only providing the opportunity for a rider to share their achievements, but also for others to build on any changes outside of riding.

The conference was also attended by Bronte Wadge-Dale from The Pony Club who was on hand to talk to the centres about Young Equestrians in partnership with HOOF and also Catherine Holland and Jodie Bratchell, BEF Regional Participation Co-ordinators who were available to discuss HOOF product and participation.

The feedback from the centres that attended was that the conference was hugely beneficial, for networking with other centres, learning the latest techniques on how to deal with the challenges faced by disabled riders, ideas for different type of lessons and how they are structured to finding out how other centres run their Accessibility Mark sessions.

There are currently 26 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country. Further details can be found here.

Page Last Updated: March 22, 2016

Vacancy for new Project Co-ordinator

RDA is very excited to be working in partnership with British Blind Sport to improve the capacity of the organisation, and the equestrian industry generally, to work with more blind and visually impaired people. Thanks to funding from Sport England, RDA is looking to recruit a part time Project
Co-ordinator for this new programme.

To find out more:

Job Description

How to apply 

Closing date for applications is 18 March 2016 

RDA_logo_dscpt_rgbBBS logo

Page Last Updated: March 4, 2016

Carriage Drivers say thank you to players

Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery more disabled carriage drivers can take part in RDA activities at local Lincolnshire group.

“Our new Fenix Carriage has arrived and it’s fantastic! Thank you so much to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for making this possible.” says Caroline Sanderson, RDA volunteer at Lincolnshire Wolds Group   “This has made a huge difference to our group, we have already more than doubled the number of carriage drivers we can take out to enjoy the new Spring season, it’s a real life changer.”

 Fenix Carriage Linc Wolds GroupA 

PPL Logo

Page Last Updated: March 4, 2016

Land Rover and Harry Meade help out in Hampshire

Windmill Boldre RDA group in Hampshire is celebrating the arrival of a specially made mounting block, designed and built by Land Rover apprentices. To mark the successful delivery and first use of the block, Land Rover Ambassador Harry Meade joined the team of apprentices and other representatives from Land Rover in a very special afternoon for the RDA group’s riders and volunteers.

The mounting block project was a joint initiative between Land Rover and Remap, a charity which custom-makes equipment for disabled people.

Eventing star, Harry Meade spent over an hour talking to riders and volunteers, and even helped to get the group’s ponies used to the new block. He met rider Keeley, who was the catalyst for the project, needing a taller block than the group’s existing one in order to continue her riding.



Page Last Updated: February 24, 2016

RDA Magazine – Winter issue now available online

Click on the cover to read a page-turner version of the latest RDA Magazine



Subscribe now to receive every issue of the magazine straight to your door for free.



Page Last Updated: May 24, 2016

BBC Lifeline Appeal to feature RDA

BBC One Logo

RDA will be the featured charity for the first BBC Lifeline Appeal of 2016, to be aired on BBC1, Sunday 17 January at 16:15 pm. The Appeal will be presented by TV and Radio presenter Anneka Rice. Repeated on Wednesday 20 Jan at 13:00, the programme features 5 year old RDA rider, Amy and Paralympian Sophie Christiansen. Both rider stories illustrate the transformative effect horse riding has had and why donations are so important to enable the charity to help even more people.

During the programme, viewers will meet Amy and her parents, who offer an emotional account of Amy’s first few weeks as a premature baby and her eventual diagnosis of Global Development Delay, Sensory Processing Disorder and core stability weakness. Mum Sarah describes Amy’s daily challenges as well as the amazing impact RDA has had since she started riding just one year ago.

“She is SO much stronger ,” says Sarah, “and can now walk longer distances and is learning how to walk up and down stairs safely. She is more stable when playing with other children so hopefully sometime soon she will be able to join her friends outside in the school playground.”

Paralympian Sophie Christiansen discusses how she started riding for physiotherapy aged 7 and how RDA has given her the opportunity to achieve so much in life – not just as an elite equestrian but also the confidence to gain her Masters in Maths and go on to carve out a successful career.

Anneka Rice explains her involvement with the charity and why she was so keen to front the Appeal: “I first became aware of RDA when I helped to build an indoor riding school for one of the charity’s groups in London 21 years ago as part of the programme Challenge Anneka. I was privileged to meet some of the amazing riders, volunteers and horses, and to understand the lasting difference riding can make.

“For the children and adults I have spoken to, RDA is an incredibly special place, where friendships are made, where no one is treated differently and where disability fades into the background. That’s why I’m proud to support this Lifeline Appeal, and why I hope you will feel able to donate what you can to help many more disabled people find out what they can achieve.”

The Appeal opens for donations on Thursday 14 January and remains open for a month. Visit the programme page:


Page Last Updated: January 12, 2016

Disabled horse riders in UK and Africa say ‘Hats off’ to players of People’s Postcode Lottery and British Airways

RDA in the UK has helped its sister charity in Africa with a donation of new safety hats. The hats have replaced older models that RDA Kenya was struggling to afford to update.

When EU regulations prevented certain safety hats being used in the UK, Lambourn RDA group in Berkshire decided to donate their stock of ‘as new’ hats to RDA Kenya. Lambourn group was able to replace its own stock of hats immediately thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, whose support of RDA UK enabled new hats to be bought for RDA groups at a substantially reduced rate. The hats for Africa were kindly shipped for free by British Airways to their new home in Nairobi, where they are already in use.

In a letter of thanks to Lambourn RDA, Sue Anderson, RDA Co-ordinator, Nairobi said: “A huge box of your beautiful hats arrived yesterday, just in time for our afternoon RDA session. Thank you so much. It means that we can retire our rather older models for your wonderful new ones. They work really well and are obviously a lot more comfortable for our riders. No doubt you know how difficult and expensive it is for us to keep up dating our equipment. Your very generous donation is amazing and very timely. Once again thank you so much.”

“We are thrilled that the hats we can no longer use in the UK have been donated to RDA in Nairobi,” said RDA Volunteer, Frances Lochrane. “We were initially very worried about how we would cover the cost of replacing our hats when the new regulations came in as we had only recently bought new ones but thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery we now have a new supply. We have a close link to RDA Kenya and knew their riders would be able to use the existing hats and the fantastic gesture from BA to waive the cargo fee was the cherry on the cake, we can’t thank everyone enough!”

Kenya RDA HatsA

Page Last Updated: January 12, 2016

RDA Volunteer named BBC Sport Unsung Hero for the South

Riding for the Disabled Association volunteer, Trish Willats has been named BBC Sport Unsung Hero for the South region for her 30 years dedication to the charity and the RDA group she runs near Basingstoke. Trish has run Wellington and Dummer RDA for the past 24 years, and was involved in the charity for several years before that.

In a celebratory film made by the BBC at her RDA group, riders, fellow volunteers and parents praise Trish’s skill with horses and ponies, her dedication to her riders and their families and the wonderful atmosphere she creates at the group.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I keep thinking – who is this person they are talking about – it can’t be me,” said Trish. “You don’t set out to make a difference. I just feel so happy that I have had the chance to work with so many amazing people and join them on some of their journey through life.”

The BBC Get Inspired Sports Unsung Hero Award recognises and rewards outstanding contribution by individuals at the grassroots level of local sport, who give up their time on a voluntary basis so that sport can be played and enjoyed by people throughout the UK. Over 150 Unsung Heroes have been honoured over the last decade.

Trish is one of 15 regional finalists who will go on to appear on the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year programme on 20 December, hosted by Clare Balding and Gary Lineker, where the overall winner will be announced.

Find out more about Trish and the work of Wellington & Dummer RDA here:

Page Last Updated: December 9, 2015