Did you know it is 50 years since Riding for the Disabled Association was set up?
From humble beginnings the RDA has grown to about 500 separate groups in the UK. This equates to around 18,000 volunteers working hard and providing such wonderful help and support to hundreds and thousands of riders.
“It all started after the Second World War, when people started noticing the therapeutic benefit of riding. The idea took hold, especially when the inspirational Danish rider, Lis Hartel caused a sensation by winning Silver medals for dressage in both the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, despite having no muscle function in her lower legs.
Lis’s success inspired a fledgling movement which spread to the UK. Early pioneers included the Winford Orthopaedic Hospital near Bristol, the Pony Riding for the Disabled Trust in Chigwell, Essex, and the British Polio Fellowship.
The benefits of riding for children and adults with disabilities were increasingly being realised during the 1960s. In 1963 those involved started getting together for the exchange of ideas and knowledge and in 1964 a loose organisation was formed called the ‘Advisory Council on Riding for the Disabled’ (ACRD).
By 1966 there were already 23 known disabled riding groups around the UK and the disabled riding ‘movement’ was growing. In 1969, at the ACRD AGM, a revised constitution was presented to the Committee to create what would be known as Riding for the Disabled Association or RDA. Our first President was Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk, and Her Royal Highness, The Princess Anne was our Patron. The Princess became our President in 1976, a position she still holds today”.