Ride with us

We welcome individual riders and groups from both mainstream and specialist schools, and residential care homes.

Gaddesden Place RDA is a thriving stables operating Tuesday through Saturday in term time.

We have riders aged 4 upwards with a wide range of special needs and disabilities including:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Dyspraxia
  • Autism
  • Stroke (CVA)
  • Downs Syndrome
  • Sight and hearing impairment
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Learning Difficulties

Please note: at the moment we have a weight limit of 10 stone or 65 Kg due to the size of our ponies.
Most riding sessions are for half an hour but can ...more

...be more or less according to the needs and ability of the rider.  Most riders benefit from the social interaction of a group lesson but one-on-one instruction is sometimes more appropriate.  Sessions are tailored to ability; exercises and games are designed to improve balance, core strength, speech, coordination, socialisation or teach a particular skill but the emphasis is on fun.

Becoming a rider at Gaddesden

First, please fill in our rider application form

After our Group Organiser has received your completed and signed form she will ask you to attend an assessment session with an instructor to fit you with a riding hat and boots and then decide which would be the most appropriate pony and time for you to ride.  If we cannot offer you a slot straight away you'll be offered a place on our waiting list until a regular slot is available. ...more

We're always very happy to hear from you, to talk things over on the phone or in person, and guide you through the simple application process. Here is what our riders say about us

"I thought riding was absolutely super duper! Not just because I was riding a fab horse but because I always wanted to do horse riding and it is great there!!!  It is fabulous!"
"Initially he was very nervous and stiff on the horse but after a few lessons he was more relaxed. Even though it was difficult getting out of bed on a cold early morning starts he looked forward to his horse riding.  At the Christmas party he said "I know you said they were having a party but didn’t think it would be THIS good!!!"
"Thanks so much again for organising this for the children.  It really helped their balance, coordination and confidence"
"The people have been so kind and friendly to all of us and we would like to thank them for the hard work they put in to making the riding such fun."

Why ride at Gaddesden?

Gaddesden Place RDA is specially equipped and provides excellent facilities accommodating most levels of disability. We are now the only full time RDA group in Hertfordshire with an indoor school, electric wheelchair ramp and a hoist, all of which enable riders to experience a unique therapy and build their confidence. We have additional tack and equipment to include specialist reins and sheepskin pads to make riding easier and more comfortable. Our large indoor school ...more

...means we can ride in all but the worst of the British weather.  It has a sand and rubber surface and large arena mirrors so riders can check they are riding in the correct position or just admire themselves!

Courtesy of the Halsey family, we are also lucky to have access to the Gaddesden Ride on the beautiful Gaddesden Estate.  This means we can take our riders for hacks through woods and across open fields with views across the Gade Valley, for sightings of cows, sheep, rabbits, pheasants, roe deer, muntjacs, guinea fowl and even a peacock!

 

We are able to offer our riders the opportunity to take the RDA Proficiency Tests - Grades 1-4, Bronze, Silver and Gold. These tests give participants the chance to demonstrate their skills and ability to an examiner and achieve an award with a badge and certificate upon completion. The Endeavour award is also available, which recognises progress and achievement outside of the proficiency test scheme, and also comes with a certificate and badge. These grades can increase participation and interest in activities both in the arena and beyond, as training is also given in horse knowledge and care. It allows participants the chance to set goals, have fun learning and achieve a nationally recognised grade.

The RDA/ASDAN Education project offers participants the chance to gain official recognition and accreditation for their time spent at an RDA Group. Training in areas such as grooming, horse care and riding is given, and all participants regardless of age or ability can take part - from those enjoying their sessions as a purely sensory experience, through to those who can work independently. It also offers schools the opportunity to use their riders achievements to support, enhance and help fulfil OFSTED requirements.

Our riders do get the opportunity to compete if they wish, for example at the RDA Regional competition which is currently held at Oaklands college in St Albans.  Qualifiers from this competition can go on to compete at the National Competition at Hartpury in Gloucestershire.  We also have close links with our local Pony Club and are encouraging competitions where disabled and able bodied compete together as a team.  Many Paralympic medal winners started riding at their local RDA group!

For carers, teachers, parents and friends there's a viewing gallery with seating for 30+ people and infrared heaters to take the chill off. We also have a small kitchen where volunteers can produce a hot drink on request.

Information for schools

Schools that currently ride with us include:

  • Bramingham School, Luton
  • Chiltern School, Dunstable
  • Egerton Rothesay School, Berkhamsted
  • MacIntyre Care, Aylesbury
  • MacIntyre School, Wingrave
  • Watling View School, St Albans
  • Weatherfield School, Dunstable
  • Find out what our schools say about us ...more
"The students at Weatherfield Academy have been benefiting from horse riding at Gaddesden Place RDA for over 30 years. We take students with moderate learning difficulties, mild physical disabilities and those with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties from Years 7 to 12 on two mornings per week throughout the academic year. The instructors and volunteers at Gaddesden Place RDA make their experience what it is - a professional, well trained, caring, friendly, fun and altogether positive all round learning experience.
Year after year, the improvement in balance, coordination, confidence, behaviour and social interaction we see in the children is fantastic. Of course their riding skills and knowledge of the horses, their tack and stable management also improve as the children work through their Proficiency Test Grades and enjoy the sense of accomplishment this brings.
Our older students in Key Stage 4 and 5 are also working on the nationally recognised ASDAN Towards Independence accreditation in Horse Care and Stable Management. Weatherfield Academy is looking forward to the next 30 years with Gaddesden Place RDA" Weatherfield Academy

"Bramingham Primary School have been coming to the Riding for the Disabled School at Gaddesden for quite a few years now. Every child has gained valuable experience from these sessions in different ways.
Each child has a different need from physical to emotional. Horse riding is so beneficial to these children as it helps develop their social, interactive and communication skills as well as improve their emotional well being .It also improves their co-ordination and gross motor skills as well as improving their core stability." Bramingham Primary School