Riding for the Disabled Association

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Riding for the Disabled Association
Legal statusCharity
HeadquartersShrewley, Warwickshire
Princess Anne
Rachel Medill MBE
Chief Executive
Paul Ringer (interim)
AffiliationsBritish Equestrian

The Riding for the Disabled Association, also known as the RDA is a United Kingdom based charity founded in 1969[1] focused on providing therapeutic horse-riding, equestrian vaulting and carriage driving lessons to people with developmental and physical disabilities as well seeking to improve the lives of those with mental health difficulties.[2] Princess Anne has been the organisations President since 1985.

The RDA is a federation of about 500 independent groups and serves over 26,500 adults and children each year[3] and is one of 16 members that make up British Equestrian.[4]

Since 2013, the RDA in partnership with the British Equestrian, accredits commercial riding schools with the Accessibility Mark.[5]


Beginnings of therapeutic riding

The first known mentions of the benefits of horse riding for the disabled are found in 600BC Greek literature.[6] The first study ascribed with value on the merits of equine-assisted therapy is then found in 1895 by French physician Cassaign who concluded that equine therapy helped certain neurological disorders.[7]

Founding of the RDA

In the 20th century, therapeutic horseback riding or equine-assisted therapy, became popular across Europe after Dane Lis Hartel, despite being paralyzed from the knees down by polio, won the silver medal for Individual Dressage at the 1952 Summer Olympics.

Her success inspired therapeutic horseback riding organisations to be created across Europe and by 1964, a loose organisation called the Advisory Council on Riding for the Disabled[8] was formed to coordinate these groups.

By 1966, 23 of these were present in the United Kingdom and by 1969 were organised formally in to Riding for the Disabled Association[8] with Lavinia Fitzalan-Howard, Duchess of Norfolk as its first president. In 1985 Princess Anne became RDA President, a position she still holds.[9]

In 2019, the RDA celebrated its 50th anniversary.[10]


Year Milestone
1969 The RDA is formally created.[11]
1971 Princess Anne becomes RDA patron.[12]
1975 Carriage driving becomes an RDA activity.[11]
1985 The first National RDA Dressage Championships take place.[11]
1985 Princess Anne becomes RDA President.[12]
1996 Para dressage is included in the olympics.
2010 Showjumping is included as an activity.[11]
2013 Endurance is added as an activity.[13]
2013 Creation of Accessibility Mark accreditation for commercial stables.[14]
2014 RDA features on a collection of Royal Mail stamps called ‘Working Horses’.[15]
2019 The RDA celebrates its 50th anniversary.[10]
2022 Human Equine Interaction Register (HEIR) is launched as part of wider group .[16]

Notable successes

At the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games all four of the Team GB Para riders started out with RDA.[17][18][19][20]

See also


  1. ^ "Riding for the Disabled Association, registered charity no. 244108". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  2. ^ Murray, Becky (2021-03-11). "'Tea with a pony' sessions have power to help those with dementia". Horse & Hound. Retrieved 2022-04-02.
  3. ^ "Riding for the Disabled". Horse and Hound. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  4. ^ "Member Bodies". British Equestrian. Retrieved 2022-03-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Why Ride at an Accessibility Mark Centre?". Able Magazine. 2018-03-01. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  6. ^ "When was equine therapy first used? – ici2016.org". ici2016.org. Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  7. ^ "Not just horsing around … psychologists put their faith in equine therapies". The Guardian. 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  8. ^ a b "FIFTY YEARS OF THE RIDING FOR THE DISABLED ASSOCIATION". UK Parliament.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Scott, N. (2005). Special Needs, Special Horses: A Guide to the Benefits of Therapeutic Riding. Practical guide series. University of North Texas Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-57441-190-4. Retrieved 2020-02-07.
  10. ^ a b "50 Faces to Celebrate 50 Years of RDA". The Gaitpost. Retrieved 2020-06-25.
  11. ^ a b c d "Riding for the Disabled". Horse and Hound. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  12. ^ a b Ciara.Berry (2016-04-01). "The Princess Royal and Riding for the Disabled". The Royal Family. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  13. ^ "Celebration Week marks 50 years of enriching lives through horses". Central Horse News. 2019-09-26. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  14. ^ "Why Ride at an Accessibility Mark Centre?". Able Magazine. 2018-03-01. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  15. ^ Banks, Tom (2014-02-01). "Royal Mail stamps celebrate working horses". Design Week. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  16. ^ Murray, Becky (2022-03-23). "New equine-assisted therapy register launches with Paralympian as patron". Horse & Hound. Retrieved 2022-03-29.
  17. ^ "Natasha Baker Paralympians Equestrian". Paralympics GB.
  18. ^ "Sophie Christiansen Paralympians Equestrian". Paralympics GB.
  19. ^ "Sir Lee Pearson Paralympics Equestrian". Paralympics GB.
  20. ^ "Sophie Wells MBE Paralympics Equestrian". Paralympics GB.