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About the RDA

The Association was founded in 1965 as the Advisory Council on Riding for the Disabled with 9 member groups, and became Riding for the Disabled in 1969 when membership had grown to 80 member groups. The President at that time was Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk. In 1986 HRH the Princess Royal took over as President. The association now has over 500 member groups which cater for more than 25,000 riders and carriage drivers.


About us

We are based at Chestnuts Riding school on the A23 at Pyecombe. We provide riding sessions for adults and children with a wide range of physical, cognitive, sensory and social disorders. On Tuesdays mornings we have three sessions of 40 minute each for adults with each session having 4 riders. Their disabilities include MS, blindness, learning difficulties, post TA trauma problems. On Thursdays mornings same sessions for children. There are three local schools. Downs Park started with us in the New Year and send us 8 (new)children each term. The children have learning difficulties such as autism , ASHD, and various other delayed learning problems. The two other schools are Cedar Centre and Woodlands  Meed – again with the same range of developmental  problems

Apart from the increase in muscle strength, core stability and  balance,  most riders find the challenge of doing something with a touch of danger to it exciting, stimulating and enjoyable. They can experience a sense of  achievement and empowerment. Horses are very sensitive and great teachers!  Autistic children in particular may find a horse or pony easier to talk to than a human.

Why we do it

Horse riding offers an opportunity for enjoyment, friendship, laughter, challenge, independence, confidence and achievement. Medical professionals recognise that there are significant therapeutic benefits for the rider. The warmth and three-dimensional movement of the horse is transmitted through the rider’s body, helping to relax, reduce spasm and improve balance, posture and co-ordination. Riding also offers an element of risk and excitement often denied to many people, especially those who are affected by serious illness or disability, and gives them a chance to regain mobility, self-esteem and a sense of achievement. Achievement at all levels is encouraged, and riders can take a number of proficiency tests, both practical and theoretical, and some riders progress outside RDA to compete internationally and even to Paralympic standard.


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About our group

Our Group was founded 1969 by Ann Holding, who worked with children with autism and similar disabilities for a number of years, and thought that regular riding could benefit the children. She set up riding sessions with a group of friends and formed West End Farm Group that rode once a week on Monday mornings.
Downsview School in Brighton came to ride, with valuable additional support provided by the mounted section of the Brighton Police.
In 1976 the group moved to Brendon Riding School in Pyecombe, and became Mid Sussex RDA.
In 2011 the Group move again to The Chestnuts Riding School on the A23, just outside Brighton.

Hamilton Lodge School for the deaf from Brighton joined us, and we started to include adult riders.We currently ride mentally and physically disabled adults on a Tuesday morning. Their conditions include post accident trauma, elipesy, multiple sclerosis and stroke. On Thursday mornings children from Downs Park and Woodlands Meed schools in Brighton and the Cedar Centre in Burgess Hill come to ride with us. Their disabilities include severe learning difficulties and emotional problems. Such was the demand that in 1984 we decided to extend our riding to two mornings a week.

We now have our own horse, and we have the use of other horses from The Chestnuts Riding School. They are a wonderful safe and willing team.
We have an outdoor wheelchair accessible mounting ramp and portable block, and have the use of an indoor school. There is also specialist riding equipment.
Mid Sussex currently teaches around 38 individual riders each with physical, cognitive, sensory or social disorders, and we give nearly 1,254 rides each year. We have a fantastic group of dedicated volunteers who turn up come rain or shine to support the riders and assist with the lessons.

Get Involved

Our volunteers number about 15 and we need more! Each rider usually needs three helpers, one to lead and two  to walk beside.  Coaches follow an extensive period of training and the group is assessed continually by other coaches from head office. We have the use of a large indoor school and a hydraulic lift. We own our own horse, Super Ted and hire three others from the riding school (Mylo, Basil, Rosie or Harry) We are completely self supporting and need over  £12,000 a year to keep running, of which £3,000 is for Ted`s upkeep. We do not charge but ask for donations- most riders do make a donation, including the schools.

Our main fundraising event  is a very popular quiz evening at Hassocks , this year on  November 24th (get details from Jackie)   We will have a stall at the RSPCA event at Patcham on July 16th  . (I will do this) Some of our riders help by doing challenges for us and holding plant/cake sales.

Volunteers do get  a lot out of what they do – e.g seeing the smile on a child`s face when they achieve  something,  and the great  improvement riders make.  W e are a friendly happy bunch and have group  days out, like a trip last year on a horse drawn boat on the canal, going up to see “War Horse”   and meeting for coffee at garden centres.   Volunteers do not have to be “horsy” as we can train  them , but helps if you are not frightened of horses!

01273 281138 / Ruby Grimshaw

Get In Touch

Drop us a message and we will get back to you straight away

Get in touch

Drop us a message and we will get back to you straight away

01273 281138 / Ruby Grimshaw

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