This is the 50th anniversary year for Riding for the Disabled which is very active in our area.
Early pioneers who recognised the benefits of sport and riding for disabled people included Danish olympian Liz Hartel, rider and physiotherapist Elsebet Bodtker and Sheila Shaw who pioneered RDA at Princess Margaret hospital in Swindon.
In 1976 the Princess Royal became president and in 1996 Para Dressage became an Olympic sport for the first time. In 2010 show jumping was introduced to the RDA, and in 2013 all 5 of para dressage riders at the Paralympics started at RDA.
Pauline Spence from Maddle Farm started Lambourn RDA about 32 years ago. “My sister had Downs and as a family we love horses so I was keen to volunteer at Newbury RDA for many years at Hamstead Norreys,” remembers Pauline. “There was such a demand that it made sense to start a separate group here in Upper Lambourn. We started with just our own ponies and built it up over the years.” With support from the local racing community, Lambourn RDA at Maddle Farm gradually developed stabling for 8 ponies, an outside menage with second-hand gallops shavings for a surface and an indoor menage to accomodate up to thirty riders a week supported by 20 volunteers.
When Pauline retired in 2016 Frances Lochrane took over and found a new venue of Manor Farm Stables in Chilton Foliat but for continuity’s sake the decision was made to keep the Lambourn RDA name.
One of the regulars at Lambourn RDA since 2002, Alex MacKinney (interviewed in video above) absolutely loves the group.
“I was in a car crash as a child and sustained a very severe head injury and was in a coma for 8 weeks,” explains Alex. “Following that I had physio to help me walk and I find riding horses like ongoing physio as it helps me with core strength and balance. I find horse riding is great mentally too. I was scared the first time I sat on a horse but I soon overcame my fear and I have met the most wonderful helpful people, riders, volunteers and instructors alike.
“The instructors are great and I have been to many competions and have always come back pleased with my score, I have many rosettes which I have won over the years.”
Lambourn RDA riding sessions take place at the following times:
- Monday afternoon 15.00 – 16.40
- Tuesday morning 09.00 – 12.00
- Wednesday afternoon 14.30 – 17.10
- Thursday morning 09.00 – 12.00
Lambourn RDA relies on the input and support of its volunteers – not just those who help with riding but also fundraisers, treasurers, and administrators or simply those who can help with a bit of DIY!
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with the Lambourn Group either on a regular or ad hoc basis they would be delighted to hear from you. No previous experience with horses is required.
Top photo: Lambourn RDA instructor Teresa Goodall with Alex McKinney on Ant and Ellen Benn on Wispa.