The physical challenge and mental stimulus derived from riding help to improve and develop muscle tone, co-ordination, balance as well as social skills. Taking part can deliver a feeling of independence, a sense of achievement and greater self-confidence. Newly found capabilities begin to take precedence over long-accepted disabilities.

Our riders have a wide range of disabilities and syndromes including moderate learning difficulties, autism, Down's syndrome, impaired sight and hearing, cerebral palsy and others. Many, whilst outwardly physically able, need to take part in a healthy activity that will calm their energies or boost their confidence.

The ‘magic’ that RDA can deliver happens because our riders are offered ponies that have been carefully vetted to ensure that they are calm and responsive to their riders. Confidence in controlling their ponies translates into confidence in other activities.

All our riders derive enormous pleasure being on the back of ponies that don’t ask any questions requiring a spoken answer, and don’t depend solely upon the spoken word to convey instructions. Their smiles communicate the contentment they derive from RDA.



Horsley, Bookham & Leatherhead RDA have experienced riding instructors to teach the disabled riders with the help of knowledgeable helpers to handle the ponies and ensure safety, maintain balance and instil confidence.

The coach in charge of an RDA session will discuss an individual’s particular situation with the person in question and their parents, carers, etc. (as appropriate). They may also consult with those involved in their medical care and request a medical report if needed. This will allow them to assess what adjustments, if any, could reasonably be made to allow riding or driving and respond to the individual’s needs, while also considering the impact on other participants, the volunteers and the horses.

Useful Links

RDA National: 

RDA South East Region: