riding for the disabled



The Association was formed in 1965 as the Advisory Council on Riding for the Disabled with 9 Member Groups, and became the Riding for the Disabled Association in 1969 when membership had grown to 80 Member Groups. The President at that time was Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk with Princess Anne as Patron. Princess Anne took over as President in 1986.

The Association became a Federation of Member Groups in 1999 and RDA National became an incorporated body in 2004.

The Riding for the Disabled Association is a national voluntary organisation dedicated to the lives of disabled people, enabling them to ride to benefit their health and wellbeing, and to achieve their goals.

There are now over 500 Member Groups, making some 23,000 riders and drivers and 18,000 volunteers, giving more than 3.5 million hours of their free time every year.

Each Group is self supporting, and there is no financial backing from RDA National. RDA National primarily sets the standards that the Member Groups are required to meet. Groups vary enormously, and their facilities range from purpose built riding centres to small areas in lanes and fields.


In 1988 Ruddington Group was formed by a few friends in order to help children with severe learning difficulties from a local school. We have had connections with the village ever since, taking part in festivals, and each year in the spring, we hold a Spring Fayre at St. Peter's Rooms in order to boost our funds. 

Since the first session in 1988, we have taken children from Nethergate School in Clifton. Their abilities vary enormously and riding has definitely given them more confidence, and it is a joy to see each child's progress. Riding can help these children in many ways both mentally and physically, and riding has become the highlight of their week according to their teachers.

RDA brings together horses and people to create a unique environment combining learning, therapy and fun. Achievement and progress are encouraged, and rewarded at every level, from basic skills to Paralympic champions. At Ruddington Group, riders, instructors and helpers are committed to the challenges and achievements, incorporating pleasure and fun into our Group's activities.

The Riding for the Disabled Association hold their own National Championships each year at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire. Events include dressage, vaulting, musical ride video competitions and jumping demonstrations. In 2003 and 2004 we won our Regional Musical Ride competition and were put forward to the National Championships. We are pleased to say that in 2003 we came fourth with our “Robin Hood” ride. In 2004 we did even better by coming second with our ride “Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat”. These were tremendous achievements for both riders and helpers alike.

In 2010 we held our own Gold Gallagher Award Day. This is held in memory of a little girl who rode with us from 2001 to 2003. Gold sadly died in 2003 and we created an Award for Achievement in her name, as in 2010 Gold would have been eighteen. This is presented every year in June.

In July 2010 Ruddington Group won two awards at the ceremony held to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Riding for the Disabled Association.

In 2013 we celebrated our Silver Anniversary, 25 years in which we have gone from strength to strength.

Ruddington Group provides riding for the children of Nethergate School on a Tuesday afternoon during term time. We ride at the Bunny Riding Centre at Bunny Hill Top, Bunny, Nottingham. This is a well established riding school, and we are lucky to be able to use their indoor riding school, together with adjoining fields and lanes.

Ideally each child needs two or three helpers. One to lead the pony and one to walk on either side. We have lots helpers and four RDA trained instructors. The instructors and helpers come on a voluntary basis. Each week we hire four of the riding school's ponies and the indoor riding school, which enables us to ride throughout the winter months when the weather is not so good. We receive no funding from any source and of course our running costs are high.

Over the years we have been quite successful with our fundraising. We have had sponsored rides, barn dances and Spring Fayres to name but a few. Local businesses and certain individuals have given us support by raising funds and providing helpers.  

A Member Group of the Riding for the Disabled Association incorporating Carriage Driving registered Charity Number 244108


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