RDA launches flagship magazine for disability equestrianism

New publication will ‘inform and inspire’ about disability sport

Riding for the Disabled Association is launching a new magazine – available by free subscription – designed to inform and inspire its readership about the work of RDA UK; disability sport and equestrianism. Published by Matrix Print Consultants Limited, RDA Magazine will launch in January as a quarterly publication – replacing the charity’s existing RDA News.

With a new editor, new design and new online subscription model, RDA is aiming to reach more of its riders and carriage drivers, volunteers and supporters, and anyone with an interest in the charity and its activities.

“We are really excited to be working with Matrix and our new editor, Ffion Llwyd-Jones,” said Communications Manager for RDA UK, Caroline Ward. “The design is fresh and engaging, and Ffion brings a wealth of equestrian and journalistic experience to the role. We are really lucky to have her on board – as well as the rest of the team at Matrix, who have created an engaging and aspirational publication that we hope our existing and new readers will enjoy.”

“I am delighted to be working on RDA Magazine,” said new editor, Ffion. “It’s a wonderful opportunity, working with a great team, to create a new magazine that really showcases how the RDA uses a combination of education, therapy and fun to improve the lives of thousands of people.”

RDA Magazine is available free of charge by subscribing at: www.rda.org.uk/subscribe.

Page Last Updated: December 4, 2015

2015 Raffle winners announced!

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 RDA annual cash raffle:

1st Prize of £1,000 goes to Mrs R Ayres. Ticket no 35623
2nd Prize of £500 goes to Ellershaw House, Care Home.  Ticket no 31984
3rd Prize of £250 goes to RDA Durrance Group. Ticket no 44532

A big thank you to everyone who supported the raffle.


Page Last Updated: November 30, 2015

£100,000 boost to riding centre thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery

Major Grant awarded to Ravelrig RDA to help build new indoor arena

A massive £100,000 grant has been awarded to a riding group in Scotland thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The grant, awarded by Riding for the Disabled Association to Ravelrig RDA will boost funds towards a new indoor arena.

Ravelrig currently supports over 100 children and adults with disabilities in the local area. The centre recently expanded its activities to support a group of military veterans – a project that was also supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The Group delivers an outstanding service to its riders, but activities currently take place outside throughout the year – even in winter. The new facility, which will also include a club room, toilets and viewing gallery, will bring riders, volunteers and horses indoors for the very first time.

As well as providing a more effective environment for existing clients, having a roof over their heads will allow the group to expand its activities year round, enabling up to 30% more people to benefit from the therapy and fun of horses.

“We are delighted to be awarded this grant,” said Barbara Johnstone of Ravelrig RDA. “It has come at a key time to encourage, motivate and boost our development plans. We can’t thank players enough for the support they give to RDA – it really does change lives.”

The cheque was presented to the group at RDA’s AGM, where Jo Bucci, Managing Director of People’s Postcode Lottery gave a presentation about their support of RDA. “Charities supported by our players can choose exactly how they allocate funds – and this project at Ravelrig is a great example of the amazing difference those funds can make.”

“This year we have been able to run small, medium and major grants programmes to help as many of our 500 groups around the UK as possible,” said Ed Bracher, Chief Executive of RDA UK. “This one off major grant gave us the chance to support a group undertaking a big project, and we were really impressed with the standard of the bids we received. In selecting Ravelrig, our grants panel have identified a great project: well-organised; lots of local support; far-reaching plans and a great vision for the future of RDA in the area.”


(Left to Right: Barbara Johnstone of Ravelrig RDA, Jo Bucci of People’s Postcode Lottery and Sam Orde, Chairman of RDA)

Page Last Updated: November 12, 2015

Boom! – Charity chooses Photographic Competition Winner


People Power picture shows real spirit of RDA

RDA has announced the overall winner of its annual Photographic Competition. ‘Boom!’ by Charles Milner of Leatherhead RDA in Surrey shows rider Cian Friend on RDA pony Toffee. Cian’s arms are raised in celebration after his success at the RDA South East Region Challenge Day.

The competition, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, featured four categories. Charles Milner won in the ‘People Power’ category and went on to be voted overall winner by staff at the Postcode Lottery.

“The South East Region Challenge Day is one of the highlights of the year for the Leatherhead Group riders and volunteers,” said Leatherhead RDA Trustee Sally Milner. “This picture perfectly captures the enjoyment and sense of achievement felt by all on that day and is a visual representation of what RDA is all about.”

“Many congratulations to Charles and everyone at Leatherhead RDA,” said Ed Bracher, Chief Executive of RDA UK. “This is a great photo that really shows the spirit of achievement and teamwork at the Group.”

Other winners and categories:

• Anne Mitchell, Barrow Farm RDA, Horse Proud

• Barry Knight, Cobbes Meadow RDA, Going for a Drive

• Anne Mitchell, Barrow Farm RDA, School Days

 To see the full collection of winners and runner-up pictures visit: www.flickr.com/gp/132153654@N05/1D6mmL

Page Last Updated: November 11, 2015

Greater Manchester RDA gets £1,000 boost from Join In

Join In, the official London 2012 legacy charity that helps UK sports clubs attract more volunteers has presented a cheque for £1,000 to Greater Manchester Riding for the Disabled Association. The RDA Group, one of nearly 500 around the UK, completed a survey run by Join In in partnership with BT. They were entered into a prize draw and won the cash boost, which will help to improve facilities at the centre.

The Group said: “This award will make a great difference to us. We are currently fundraising to improve our facilities, carrying out much needed work to our arena and also putting in a path so that it will be more accessible to wheelchair users. This prize will take us a big step closer, especially as we can use it as match funding so it will double in value!”

RDA relies on 19,000 dedicated volunteers around the country to deliver its services and Join In is supporting RDA Groups to connect with new volunteers in their local area through the Join In website.

Join In CEO Rebecca Birkbeck said: “We are delighted to work with our founding partner BT to support volunteer run community sports clubs. RDA clubs do brilliant work to enable people with a disability to enjoy horse riding. It was great to visit Greater Manchester RDA and experience this first hand and we are pleased that the support of BT and Join In will enable to help more people to enjoy the sport.”


Page Last Updated: November 3, 2015

Inspiring event for disability sport heads to Northampton

On 25 October 2015 six Paralympic sports will be coming together for a host of demonstrations, information and ‘have a go’ sessions at the inaugural regional Para Sport Event. Moulton College, Northamptonshire, will be opening their doors to welcome guests to discover how to get started in disability sport and a taste of the opportunities available.

Hoof, the British Equestrian Federation’s participation programme, will be hosting a range of activities on the day include para-rowing, para-sailing, wheelchair basketball, archery, para-cycling and para-equestrian dressage, with advice and help for those looking to take their first steps into disability sports.

Special guest, London 2012 Paralympic gold medallist, Sophie Wells MBE will be on hand for coaching guidance and advice on getting involved in para-equestrian dressage during the live demonstrations and at the para-dressage stand, where  Hoof, the British Equestrian Federation’s participation programme mechanical horse will be giving free taster sessions throughout the day; “Lots of people will see disability sports but not know how they can get involved, that is the biggest hurdle, there are lots of sports out there and this gives people the opportunity to try different sports” comments Sophie.

Demonstrations in the main equine arena will give people the chance to see first-hand para-equestrian dressage as participants currently involved with Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and British Dressage showcase the sport. Long-time member and volunteer of Scropton RDA in Derbyshire Matthew Dalley hopes his demonstration ride will “inspire someone to get involved in sport and improve their life through it” having seen the impact horse riding has had on his own life;

“Riding has always been really important to me and has helped me to progress in many different ways. It has challenged me, given me goals and ambitions, motivated me, given me confidence and self-belief. It has helped me grow stronger both physically and mentally.

Matthew enthuses; “I am really excited to be a part of the event. I want to show what can be achieved even when you have a lot of challenges to overcome.”

Hoof hopes the day will give even more people the chance to discover the different sports that are on offer and looks to open the regional event up to more locations in the future.

Admission to this interactive day packed with information and detail about disability sport is absolutely free! More information about the day can be found at http://www.bef.co.uk/Detail.aspx?page=ParaSportEvent2015

To sign up for free tickets please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/para-sport-event-tickets-18713755346

Page Last Updated: October 22, 2015

Regional Para Sport Event opens opportunities for disability sports

Inspired by the success of National Paralympic Day earlier this year, Hoof, the British Equestrian Federation’s participation programme, is bringing several Paralympic sports together to give even more people the chance to see and try a range of disability sports at the first ever Para Sport Event 2015.

Hosted at Moulton College in Northamptonshire, the free regional event is set out to promote disability sport and also introduce people to para sports by giving them the opportunity to find out more and try some out for themselves. From 9.30am on Sunday 25 October attendees will have the chance to give a variety of Paralympic sports a go including; para-equestrian dressage, para-cycling, para-sailing, wheelchair basketball, para-rowing and archery.

Hot off her success at the recent Para-Equestrian Dressage European Championships, Sophie Wells MBE will be part of an introduction to Para-Equestrian Dressage demonstration which will include a display from riders currently training and competing within the British Dressage and Riding for the Disabled competition structure. 

Sophie commented on the importance of events for para sports; “Lots of people will see disability sports but not know how they can get involved, that is the biggest hurdle, there are lots of sports out there and this gives people the opportunity to try different sports. This event allows that flexibility, you don’t have to just pick one sport you can do a variety, which is why events like this are so important.

“It draws on the legacy of London 2012, but over time interest does start to fade so these events are really important, it gives people the opportunity to see different sports and to give them a go.”

Following the triumph of National Paralympic Day Sarah Chambers, Project Manager for National Paralympic Day at the British Paralympic Association, praised the initiative aimed at bringing para sports to even more people; “It’s absolutely fantastic that these sports are getting into the spirit of National Paralympic Day. National Paralympic Day gives people the opportunity to celebrate what they love about the Paralympics and I think that this event fits the bill perfectly.

“It is a fun way for people of all ages to show their support for the Paralympics and disability sport.”

It is hoped that the inaugural regional Para Sport Event will mark the start of a regular, more wide spread celebration of para sport, encouraging the increased access and participation of disability sports throughout the country.

Admission to this interactive day packed with information and detail about disability sport is free! More information about the day can be found at http://www.bef.co.uk/Detail.aspx?page=ParaSportEvent2015

To sign up for free tickets please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/para-sport-event-tickets-18713755346

Page Last Updated: October 5, 2015

‘Best Ever’ Gala Awards is a star-studded night to remember

In a star-studded night of celebration, the third RDA Gala Awards recognised the achievements and dedication of riders, volunteers, horses and more. Host of the evening, Clare Balding was joined by Alastair Stewart, Natasha Baker, Anneka Rice, Scott Quinnell and Jonathan Agnew.

Gala Awards celebrates the riders, volunteers, RDA Groups, horses, local businesses and vets who all help to make the charity so special. An important fundraiser for RDA, the night raised a fantastic £25,000. Clare Balding became auctioneer for the evening, helping to raise a record-breaking amount for the charity.

Broadcaster and journalist Alastair Stewart made the after dinner speech, praising the work of RDA. This year’s event took place at Lord’s, the home of Cricket, so it was only fitting that broadcaster and cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew was on hand to entertain guests on a special tour of the site. 

Welsh Rugby legend Scott Quinnell came as the guest of People’s Postcode Lottery. He also signed rugby shirts for the auction, helping to raise £900 on that one lot alone.

This year’s award winners are:

RDA group brilliant Idea (sponsored by Automotive Insulation Ltd): Wenlo RDA for their young person’s committee

Business of the Year (sponsored by BETA): Netro42 for the creation of the RDA South East website

Vet of the Year (sponsored by Merial Animal health): Nathalie Cole of Liphook Equine

Horse of the Year (sponsored by SnuggyHoods): Prince from Penniwells RDA

Volunteer of the Year (sponsored by Perkins Slade): Kate Bennet of Gareloch RDA

Most Improved Participant (sponsored by Childs Farm): Ellie Livingstone of Ravelrig RDA.

Ellie is an eleven year-old rider and fundraiser, who has quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. She uses a wheelchair and her ‘tight’ muscles can make it difficult and uncomfortable for her to ride. Her hands are also affected, and she has to work really hard to maintain contact with her reins.

She is desperate to progress her riding, however, and pushes herself to the limit. She listens to her coaches and works hard at sitting up tall. Ellie always gives 100% to her lessons. Her ambition is to ride in the Olympics – a dream her coaches believe she has the tenacity to realise.

In addition to her riding achievements, and being an active fundraiser for RDA, she takes part in Volunteer training days, helping people to understand the challenges she faces, and how she wants to be treated like an individual – not someone with a disability.

In private this rider’s challenges sometimes make her feel different and sad, but she always arrives at RDA with a huge, infectious smile. Her mum says: “horse riding and everything associated with RDA is her lifeline. Not only is she receiving physiotherapy, she is also challenged, and part of a community.”

 Ed&Celebs a 2015Gala

Left to right:
RDA Chief Executive, Ed Bracher, Paralympian Natasha Baker, Rugby legend and People’s Postcode Lottery Ambassador Scott Quinnell, Clare Balding, Anneka Rice, Alastair Stewart and Jonathan Agnew.


Ellie receives her award from Clare Balding

Page Last Updated: October 5, 2015

RDA Gala Awards Auction – details announced

Details of the 2015 RDA Gala Awards auction are now available. Some fantastic lots will go under the hammer when Clare Balding runs the auction in The Long Room at Lord’s on Wednesday 30 September 2015.   
Click here to view the full list (there are two pages in the PDF). Huge thanks to all our prize donors for generously supporting our night of celebration!

Page Last Updated: September 23, 2015

Search underway to find new Chief Executive for British Equestrian Federation

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) has appointed the leading sports’ executive search firm, SRi, to identify candidates for the pivotal role of its new Chief Executive. The role becomes vacant from 20 June 2016, when the current CEO, Andrew Finding OBE, retires after a fifteen year tenure.

SRi has prepared a Candidate Brief in association with a panel of the Federation’s Directors to set out the scope of this wide reaching role. This aim is to find individuals who have the career status, expertise and competencies to lead the BEF through the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond, into its next stage of corporate and commercial evolution as a governing body for equestrianism in the UK.

The Chairman of the BEF, Keith Taylor, said: “The BEF is determined to select an outstanding candidate to replace Andrew Finding when he retires after a long and impressive career. During his time in office he has made a huge contribution to equestrianism both at home and on the international stage.

To do this we will run an open and transparent recruitment process to secure the best talent from amongst those we take forward to interview. We will be supported in this by SRI who have an established track record in sourcing excellent candidates for national sporting governing bodies.”

SRi Chairman, Mike Squires said: “We are delighted to be working with Keith and his Board on this important role. British equestrianism has a proud heritage and an enviable record of success at the highest level. This position will undoubtedly attract high calibre candidates keen to play a leadership role in the next stage of the sport’s progress and development.”

First round of interviews for the position will be held week beginning 1 December 2015.

For further information please visit www.bef.co.uk or www.sportsrecruitment.com

Page Last Updated: September 18, 2015

Anneka Rice and Clare Balding to lead ‘Challenge Anneka’ reunion

Celebrities join forces to celebrate 21st anniversary of programme at Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre

Anneka Rice and Clare Balding are hosting a ‘Challenge Anneka’ reunion at the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre, London, to mark 21 years since Anneka and her team helped to build the indoor riding school there. The event, to be held on Saturday 26 September, will feature a special screening of the original programme, a display from current riders at the group and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. Anneka and Clare will also enjoy a horse ride round a recently completed outdoor trail at the Centre.

Ambassador for RDA, Clare Balding said: “When I heard that it was 21 years since the programme was made, it seemed like a great opportunity to bring everyone together to celebrate the amazing work of RDA centres like Wormwood Scrubs, which provide riding, carriage driving and hippotherapy to around 28,000 people with disabilities every year.”

“’I am thrilled that so many Challenge Anneka projects are celebrating big anniversaries this year,” said Anneka. “Most of the 60 or so projects are still going strong and this is a busy year for me, going to visit projects up and down the country. We had a 25th anniversary party for all the original production team at my home the other week and raised a glass to everyone involved over the years.”

Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre is a member of Riding for the Disabled Association, which has around 500 groups all the over the UK. Through its activities, RDA provides therapy, achievement and fun to people of all ages. RDA relies on the help of volunteers and donations to deliver its services.

Page Last Updated: August 13, 2015

800 Mile Ride to Raise Funds for Charity

Artist Caro Woods and her Connemara pony, Tommy, are making an extraordinary 800 mile journey to raise money for the Riding for the Disabled Association. Having started at the holy island of Lindisfarne, off the coast of Northumberland, the plucky pair will end their epic journey at St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall.

“I felt I had to do this,” explains Caro, “I am interested in the transformational quality of travelling through a landscape, and I wanted to create a spiritual connection between these two Holy Islands. This is a very personal journey for me: in this, my 60th year, each days ride will be a celebration of a year of my life.” At Glastonbury Caro picked up the Michael and Mary pilgrim route, an ancient path that leads through the iconic St Michael’s Mount near Penzance. She and Tommy have had to cope with many hazards and difficulties including crossing busy roads, losing the route – which is not always clear – and negotiating fields containing curious or hostile livestock.

“So many kind people have given Tommy and I a bed for the night: they have affirmed that even in this modern world there are those who offer traditional hospitality to a traveller passing through.”

In Little Badminton, near Chipping Sodbury, Caro and Tommy visited St Michael’s church to spend a little time at the grave of Caro’s husband, Graeme, who sadly died of cancer barely a year after they were married there. The cherry tree planted by Caro with Graeme’s family now stands sentinel over the grave.

Caro is documenting her extraordinary journey on her blog at https://pilgrimonhorseback.wordpress.com/ Please consider making a donation via the links on her website.


Page Last Updated: August 10, 2015

Vacancy for Centre Manager – Gaddesden Place RDA, Hertfordshire

Gaddesden Place is a full time dedicated RDA centre providing therapeutic riding for over 100 children and adults with special needs and disabilities.

We now have a vacancy for a part time Centre Manager/Instructor to join our team of staff and volunteers.

Main duties include:

  • Coordinating / scheduling the day to day running of the centre
  • Instructing a variety of individuals and groups of disabled riders (experience of disabilities an advantage )
  • Liaising with schools, riders, carers, parents
  • Managing the duties of the yard staff and helping with volunteer training
  • Reporting to the board of trustees
  • Working with the yard manager to care for 6 ponies

Job Requirements:

  • BHSAI or equivalent – working towards RDA Qualifications
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • First Aid
  • Driving licence (own car essential)
  • DBS clearance
  • Basic IT Skills

 Job Benefits:

  • Tuesday-Friday 9-4pm
  • Busy, friendly centre with excellent facilities: electric lift, hoist, indoor school, outdoor hacking
  • Salary dependent on experience

Please send your CV to Cathy Bolshaw, Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled, Briden’s Camp, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. HP2 6EX or email: info@gaddesdenplacerda.org.uk

Page Last Updated: August 10, 2015

Princess Anne meets competitors and accepts £325,000 cheque for RDA

400 competitors at first full 3-day RDA National Championships

Riding for the Disabled President, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal spent 3 hours soaking up the atmosphere at the charity’s National Championships, meeting riders and drivers, thanking supporters and taking a tour of the remarkable 3-day event. The biggest event of its kind in the world for disabled riders and carriage drivers, this year’s Championships saw over 400 competitors taking part. Princess Anne thanked the hundreds of volunteers who make the event possible, as well as supporters such as players of People’s Postcode Lottery – from whom she accepted a cheque for £325,000 on the charity’s behalf.

Princess Anne visited the Championships to help celebrate 40 years of RDA Carriage Driving. She spoke to supporters, riders and drivers, watched competitions including Visually Impaired Dressage, Countryside Challenge and Carriage Driving and presented rosettes and awards to competitors and volunteers.

The RDA National Championships, held at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, is the charity’s flagship event, bringing together hundreds of disabled competitors who have qualified to take part. 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. This year, Team GBR International Para Dressage Rider Erin Orford came along to inspire younger riders, present rosettes and reminisce about her own time competing at the Championships.

Full list of results here


Page Last Updated: July 24, 2015

RDA and Dodson and Horrell announce new Corporate Partnership

RDA has confirmed a new partnership agreement with Dodson and Horrell to sponsor the 2015 RDA National Championships Carriage Driving competition.

“As a Carriage Driver myself I know how much enjoyment and thrill the sport can bring so becoming the new sponsor of RDA Carriage Driving was a natural fit for us. We are very pleased to be part of the competition and are really looking forward to the event.” says Sam Horrell, Marketing Director at Dodson and Horrell.

“This partnership is a real boost for our RDA competitors particularly during this special year where we celebrate the 40th anniversary of RDA Carriage Driving. We are delighted to have the support of Dodson and Horrell.” says Ed Bracher, Chief Executive at RDA.

John Horrell, Joint MD of Dodson and Horrell will be attending the 2015 Championships which takes place at Hartpury Equine College from 17-19 July 2015. Mr Horrell will be joining RDA President, HRH Princess Anne and guests on Friday 17th for a reception to celebrate 40 years of RDA Carriage Driving.

Over 400 entrants, 250 horses and 200 volunteers come together for three full days of competition at the RDA Championships, the world’s largest event for disabled riders, carriage drivers and vaulters.

Page Last Updated: July 13, 2015

Triple gold Paralympian, Sophie Christiansen, wishes good luck to Slough residents

Sophie C at the Paralympic Ball2012                                       

As the next winning postcode for players of People’s Postcode Lottery Millions is announced as ‘SL3’, Paralympic equestrian, Sophie Christiansen MBE has sent a special message of good luck to lottery players in the area. 

Sophie started her Paralympic journey at Slough’s local branch of Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) – one of the good causes supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

 “Good luck to players of People’s Postcode Lottery in Slough,” says Sophie. “With your help thousands of children and adults with disabilities are being given the chance to reach their full potential through horse riding and carriage driving at RDA.”

RDA uses horses and ponies to deliver life changing therapy to disabled adults and children all over the UK. South Bucks RDA, based in Fulmer, supports over 100 local riders ever week. 

As well as Sophie’s message, RDA will be bringing its special horseshoe to the town to help boost players’ luck before the weekend’s draw. “It’s just a bit of fun,” says RDA Fundraiser Sal Atkinson, “but we do want people to understand the huge impact their support has on charities like ours. Players of People’s Postcode Lottery in Slough might not realise the far-reaching benefits that they bring to children and adults at our riding groups like South Bucks RDA. With their help, we can provide this vital community resource to more deserving people.”

The Postcode Millions Event, where People’s Postcode Lottery will announce the winning postcode in the Slough area, takes place on 27 June at Upton Court Park at 10:45.

PPL_Logo_RED_for Screen&WebUse

For more information, interviews or to receive images please contact:

Sal Atkinson Riding for the Disabled Association Tel: 01926 405 975 Email: satkinson@rda.org.uk

Page Last Updated: June 25, 2015

RDA volunteers recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Four RDA Volunteers have been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours. Mary Booker of Strathbogie RDA, Alice Evans of West Suffolk RDA and Anita Parker of Woodside Farm Stables all received the British Empire Medal. Margaret Brockie, HLVP, Carriage Driving Chairman, Regional Driving Rep and based at Red Rose Carriage Driving group was awarded an MBE.

Many congratulations to them all.

Page Last Updated: June 15, 2015

Princess Anne toasts charity’s success as RDA Carriage Driving turns 40

Unicorn Trust Equestrian Centre hosts memorable day of celebrations

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) enjoyed a day of celebrations in the company of Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, marking 40 years of RDA Carriage Driving. The Princess enjoyed driving displays from RDA groups and a demonstration of para driving. Colin Pawson of the British Driving Society took guests on a nostalgic talk through the last 40 years of driving at RDA, while carriages from then and now paraded the arena. Mark Broadbent of Fenix Carriages demonstrated the very latest addition to RDA Driving – a new purpose-built carriage for wheelchair users.

Following the displays, Her Royal Highness presented rosettes and badges to all those involved, then met RDA volunteers, drivers and supporters before cutting a special anniversary cake.

RDA Carriage Driving Chairman, Margaret Brockie, received a special award from The Princess Royal for her dedication to driving and for successfully encouraging the growth of the sport within RDA.

“It was a great day of recognising how far Carriage Driving has come,” said Margaret. “We celebrated those pioneers who could see the potential of driving for people with disabilities, and showed how their vision has been realised in the vibrant and dynamic activity that so many benefit from today.”

Cobbes Meadow Fun Day

Cobbes Meadow RDA Driving Group held a Fun Day on 12th June to celebrate 40 years of carriage driving and invited neighbouring group Woodchurch to join them.

The day started with two volunteers being asked to harness up a familiar pony and set of harness in under 5 minutes. Woodchurch won, their time was 4 minutes and 2 seconds. The two groups then dressed in fancy dress to the theme ‘Famous Couples’. There was much laughter as entries ranged from Miss Piggy & a missing Kermit to St George & the Dragon. The ponies paraded in the outdoor arena and Carol Porter was asked to judge. She placed St George & the Dragon 1st; Reverse Dalmation and Queen of Hearts 2nd; Batman, Dobbin and Flower Pot Man Bill 3rd; Father Christmas 4th; and Miss Piggy 5th.

Those drivers that wanted to then drove a series of 8 cones against the clock. 1st was Kevin driving Jacko; 2nd Pat driving Charlie; 3rd Andrew driving Jacko; 4th Richard driving Charlie; 5th Rita driving Smartie; 6th Martyn driving Winston; 7th Liz driving Rainbow; and 8th Angela driving Charlie.

The final driving challenge was a mini Le Trec with obstacles including driving over a carpet; parallel parking and standing for 2 seconds; driving past a scarey corner of wild animals (teddy bears on a washing line); and driving a circle with one wheel inside a smaller circle of discs.

Eleven drivers took part and all ponies were extremely well behaved and worked hard throughout the morning. Once the ponies were made comfortable and the carriages put away or loaded onto trailers the drivers and volunteers gathered together for a splendid celebratory lunch.

The weather was perfect for lunch outside which included salmon, strawberries and a glass of champagne with 40th anniversary cake served by volunteers from the riding group. It was a good opportunity to meet up with former volunteers, some of whom had been at the initial driving session.

Maria Conneely, Cobbes Meadow RDA Driving Group Organiser

Glorious day out at Shelley Centre

The driving team at Shelley took Thyme the pony and his Hartland 4 wheeled Carriage to Blandings Farm EC near Newmarket on 9th June to celebrate 40 years of RDA Carriage Driving. Our two disabled drivers, Vivien Hatfield and Sheila Frampton, both stroke victims who can no longer ride, really enjoy their driving.

We spent four hours in total, experiencing Dressage, Cone driving, Cross Country and Solid Obstacles. All for real in this wonderful setting. Viv and Sheila are very hands on with harnessing up, putting to and are keen to experience the skills needed for this more challenging aspect of carriage driving.

Six of us were on hand to make sure the day was special, proudly displaying the Rosette and our badges. We socialised with coffee and lunch on arrival (it was 50 miles from Shelley) After taking turns round all the elements, Thyme had his reward of a carrot and haynet while we all enjoyed coffee and cake before packing up for home.

May thanks to Howard and Margaret Nuttall. Linda Twichten, Louise Kemp and Suzie Battersby for making it all possible.

Eunice Binder

A Ruby fun day at Mid Suffolk Carriage Driving Group

I just wanted to thank you for the beautiful rosettes and badges that you sent to us and to say how much fun we had on Monday.

Horses, Carriages Whips, Helpers and even the Dogs were all looking very pretty in their Ruby attire. (Or as near to Ruby as they could get!!) We had a scavenger hunt which was hilarious especially when two volunteers were trying to reach the same ‘dog rose’!! We also had a quiz for those that were back at base!!

Cakes, sandwiches etc were made and a mountain of strawberries were eaten!!

It was a wonderful opportunity to invite some of our old friends to join us and our hosts were amazing having cut borders round their fields for the Disabled Whips/ABW’s/Horses to enjoy. A bit hard work for our cyclists though but they all came back smiling!! The venue for this particularly Monday was in Hestley Green which is deep in the heart of the Suffolk countryside which really added to a great atmosphere.

Gill Elmer, Group Organiser, Mid Suffolk Carriage Driving Group

RDA Carriage Driving at 40 – a brief history and background to a week of celebrations

Early in 1974, the Sandhurst Group of RDA approached the driving section of the Donkey Breed Society to see if they would co-operate with the group to experiment and try out ideas for teaching adults with disabilities to drive a pony or a donkey. After several sessions it was proved that driving for the disabled could be a success and all those involved were convinced that the scheme must become permanent.

On the 12th June 1975, it was carried by the Council of the Riding for the Disabled Association that the constitution be amended to include driving.

The Council for RDA appointed Phoebe Stewart as the first Chairman of RDA Carriage Driving and she had great support from Nancy Pethick, nominated by the British Driving Society, to develop the discipline and rules within the Association. The first driving group set up under the auspices of RDA was Windsor and Ascot and this group continues to thrive. RDA now has 66 groups providing sessions to 1026 drivers.

The event at the Unicorn Trust Equestrian Centre forms just part of the celebrations going on across the country during this anniversary week. Many groups are holding events to mark the occasion; picnic drives, fun days and parties.

Page Last Updated: June 16, 2015

Princess Anne to lead Carriage Driving celebrations at charity championships

RDA President HRH The Princess Royal at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, Friday 17 July

RDA is welcoming its President, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to the National Championships this summer to help celebrate 40 years of RDA Carriage Driving. The charity’s flagship event, which takes place on 17-19 July at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, starts on Friday with a celebration of RDA Carriage Driving featuring dressage tests, cones & obstacles and a VIP reception.

Friday’s programme continues with Showjumping, Visually Impaired Dressage, Countryside Challenge and Horsecare & Knowledge. Saturday and Sunday features Dressage, Vaulting, Countryside Challenge, Horsecare & Knowledge, Arts & Crafts and Best Turned Out.

The family-friendly event attracts over 400 competitors, including children and adults, all of whom have qualified for entry at regional competitions organised around the country throughout the spring. Entry to the event is free for visitors and there is plenty to see and do for all ages.

“We are delighted that Her Royal Highness can join us for this special occasion as we celebrate 40 years of RDA Carriage Driving,” says Championships Chairman Anne Coney. “This wonderful event captures the spirit of the whole organisation. We bring together competitors from all over the UK who have overcome sometimes unbelievable challenges to qualify for their place. The courage and skill displayed by many of our riders and drivers is truly inspiring and our volunteers work hard throughout the weekend to make sure everyone has a good time.”

The Championships is famous for its friendly atmosphere, helpful volunteers and ‘can do’ attitude. A free shuttle bus runs throughout the weekend from the carpark to the arenas to make the site more accessible for both visitors and competitors.

Friendly dogs on leads welcome.

Page Last Updated: June 8, 2015

RDA Groups honoured with Queen’s Award

The Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre and Acorn & Squirrels RDA have been honoured with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Wormwood Scrubs has been giving children and young adults the opportunity to learn how to ride and have fun with ponies for over 25 years. Acorn & Squirrels, based in Devon, has been running for over 30 years, supporting 35 riders every week.

The award recognises the dedicated volunteers who help in so many different ways. Both groups will officially receive their awards from the Lord Lieutenant later in the summer.


Page Last Updated: June 2, 2015

Unicorn Centre receives Matrix Standard – first for RDA

RDA’s Unicorn Centre, based at Hemlington near Middlesbrough, has been accredited with the nationally recognised quality mark for organisations which provide support to individuals to make learning and work more accessible – the matrix Standard.

The Centre gained accreditation to the matrix Standard for its provision of learning to young people and adults through its sub-contract with Middlesbrough College. The accreditation also was awarded for the Centre’s Supported Volunteer Programme, and the delivery of riding and therapy services to young people and adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

The Unicorn Centre also has 60 volunteers each week, some of which are supported through its multi-award winning Supported Volunteer Programme and it wanted to ensure that these, along with the learners and riders, and the Centre’s 12 members of staff, were receiving the best information, advice and guidance possible. The charity decided that the matrix Standard, amongst other things, would help it to achieve continuous improvement.

The Unicorn Centre, a registered charity which opened in 1998, is a purpose built riding for the disabled facility which offers riding therapy and learning and training opportunities for almost 200 disabled adults and children from the Tees Valley area each week.

Centre Manager Claire Pitt, who is described along with the Centre’s Trustees in the report as effective, supportive and visionary, said, “Achieving the matrix Standard has been tremendously challenging, but it has enabled the Centre to focus on its strengths and how to continually deliver a first class service to all its users.”

She continued, “I hope that this national acclamation of service delivery to the highest standards will be recognised by organisations and grant funders, and consequently benefit the Centre in the future. Competition for funding is so great, that an accreditation such as this is needed to ensure we stand out tall above the others.”

David Allan, Managing Director at emqc Ltd said of the charity’s achievement:

“This matrix Accreditation is another example of how the matrix Standard is proving effective for all types of organisations, helping them to provide a more professional service offering and to strive to be the best in their sector.”

Any other organisations that would like to know more about how the matrix Standard might be able to help, can find out more by contacting them on 0845 304 8600.

For further information about the Unicorn Centre, please contact the Centre Manager, Claire Pitt on 01642 576222. 

Page Last Updated: May 5, 2015

Injured and Ex-service Personnel to benefit from new Saddle Club

A grant made possible thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery is supporting a project at Ravelrig Riding for the Disabled group to create a new saddle club for military personnel and veterans.

‘The Horse Club Ten Week Programme’ has been devised by the group to include classroom based activities; yard, stable and horse care; practical riding experience and training. Throughout the programme, military personnel will benefit from having an opportunity to try something different, carry out positive work in the community and make a real difference to the lives of others as well as their own. They will also gain from the many physical and psychological benefits that working with horses brings to all of RDA’s clients and volunteers.

The grant was awarded as part of a nationwide programme by RDA to support local RDA groups who want to expand their activities.

“We were delighted to be able to award a grant to Ravelrig RDA to help establish a Horse Club for military personnel and veterans,” said Ed Bracher, Chief Executive at RDA. “The range of projects we have been able to fund thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery demonstrates the creative ways that groups are tackling the growing demand for RDA activities, not just around Edinburgh but across the UK.”

RDA funded £2,900 towards the Horse Club, part of a larger grant from the charity totalling £10,000. The remainder will go towards Ravelrig’s indoor arena development project.


Page Last Updated: April 28, 2015

Veterans to benefit from new horse at disabled riding centre

RDA has awarded a grant to Ebor Vale RDA group to purchase a new horse for adult riders, including ex-service personnel. The £3,000 grant was made possible thanks to BT Supporter’s Club. ‘Kelly’ the horse has already started training at the group, in readiness for providing both riding and carriage driving lessons for adults in the local area.

Currently, the majority of Ebor Vale’s 50 riders and drivers are children, and Kelly has been specially chosen so that more adults can benefit from the therapy, achievement and fun offered by RDA’s activities. Specifically, the group plans to set up a dedicated session for ex-service personnel.

“Our new addition will enable us to offer an increased service to cater for larger riders, including a new session for up to four veterans from the local area,” said RDA Volunteer Gail Bentley. “Kelly will also help us to reduce our existing current waiting list.”

 The grant was awarded as part of a nationwide programme by RDA to support local RDA groups trying to expand their activities. “We were delighted to be able to award a grant that will allow more adults to get involved at Ebor Vale and to help them tackle their waiting lists,” said Ed Bracher, Chief Executive at RDA. “The range of projects we have been able to fund in this latest round of grants demonstrates the creative ways that our groups are tackling the growing demand for our services – not just in Yorkshire but all over the UK.”

Page Last Updated: April 27, 2015

West Yorkshire RDA group launches after school club

RDA has awarded a grant to Haworth RDA group to set up an after school club. 16 young people from the local area will benefit from the activities and therapy delivered by horse riding, supported by a team of young volunteers.

Jane Lawrence of Haworth RDA said: “The grant means we can cater to an additional 16 young people with disabilities, allowing them to benefit from the recreation and therapy that horse riding provides. Because the project is supported by our junior volunteers it has also increased peer support, communication skills and the ability to socialise as part of a large group.

“Some of the activities that happen at after school club help towards recognised accreditations – helping all our young people achieve recognition for the activities that they participate in and support. These qualifications also contribute towards improving the life chances and available opportunities in the future for the young people in our care. Because our after school clubs function with the support of our volunteers it allows parents and carers two hours of valuable respite time.”

The grant was awarded as part of a nationwide programme by RDA to support local RDA groups trying to expand their activities. “We were delighted to be able to award a grant towards such a positive and important community resource, which will help even more young people take part in our activities,” said Ed Bracher, Chief Executive at RDA. “The range of projects we have been able to fund in this latest round of grants demonstrates the creative ways that our groups are tackling the growing demand for our services – not just in West Yorkshire but all over the UK.”

Page Last Updated: April 21, 2015

£100,000 to support disabled riding groups across the UK

RDA has awarded grants to 21 of its groups totalling more than £100,000. RDA’s grants programme has been made possible thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery and BT Supporters Club. Funds have been allocated to specific projects aimed at increasing the number of people who can benefit from the charity’s activities.

The projects made possible by the grants include: the purchase of horses, a new carriage, a mounting platform, vaulting equipment and the setting up of an after school riding club.

“The range of projects we have been able to fund thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery and BT Supporters Club demonstrates the creative ways that groups are tackling the growing demand for RDA activities,” says Ed Bracher, Chief Executive at RDA.

Caroline Sanderson, a volunteer at Lincolnshire Wolds RDA, which has received funds for a new carriage, said: “We are extremely fortunate to have access to beautiful countryside and with the benefits of a purpose built carriage our disabled carriage drivers will be able to enjoy outdoor areas that they would otherwise not be able to access.

“This special carriage means that we can offer this activity to even more people from the local area. One of our drivers has a dream to eventually take part in an event and we hope that we can make this a reality for her.”

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Page Last Updated: April 20, 2015