RDA UK Fortnightly Newsletter

Keep up to date with RDA UK with our fortnightly newsletter.

Please share with your Group, volunteers and participants.

Page Last Updated: May 22, 2024

Rachel and Mel’s Yorkshire Visit

Rachel King has recently joined the RDA UK team as our new Volunteering Manager, bringing a wealth of experience and passion for supporting groups with recruitment, training, development, and recognition of volunteers. She is looking forward to collaborating with RDA groups to enhance their already incredible work and supporting them to achieve their goals.

Last week, Rachel, along with Melanie Parry, our Volunteer Coordinator, visited Wakefield RDA and North Ferriby RDA in Yorkshire, introducing Rachel to the inspiring world of RDA Groups. 

Wakefield RDA 

Rachel wearing a white polo neck and brown waxed jacket, smiling to camera standing outside a stable, with a black pony with a white blaze looking over the door.

Rachel meets Bill the pony at Wakefield RDA

‘My third week at RDA ended with my first visit to a very snowy Yorkshire! On the 8th of February, I visited Wakefield RDA where Melanie Parry introduced me to Carol and her team (including Bill – what an absolute gent!). A big thank you for having us & giving us your time and showing us around – even in the snow! It’s amazing to see the incredible work you are doing! I absolutely love how much I am learning in each & every conversation with RDA volunteers. 

North Ferriby RDA 

My Yorkshire trip was rounded off with a visit to North Ferriby RDA and all I can say is wow – what a special place. From the moment I walked through the front gate I felt welcomed, and I quickly understood why this is a safe space for so many – participants and volunteers alike. It was great to see some young volunteers in action on the yard, and I particularly enjoyed learning about the history of the group and where it all started. I loved hearing young people’s stories and all about their achievements, as well as the teams’ individual journeys as RDA volunteers. 

Their passion for offering more than just riding at this group absolutely shone through and it was clear to me that people & animals from whatever walk off life could find their place here. To the passionate & dedicated people making this happen and making an impact on so many lives – thank you again and again. I look forward to hearing about all your successes this year and visiting again sometime soon, hopefully in the sunshine!  Dolly & the donkeys made me feel especially welcome (even cheeky Chad who tried to have a munch on my coat). 

Rachel standing in an open yard, next to a pony with a long brown forelock and white face.

Rachel meets Dolly at North Ferriby RDA

Mel looking to camera, standing outside next to a small brown donkey. Mel wears glasses, a stripey scarf and a long blue puffer coat.

Mel meets one of the North Ferriby donkeys

I am really looking forward to connecting with more RDA groups and volunteers over the coming weeks & months to learn from your experiences, and support you in our mission to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities through horses.   – so let me know if you would like a visitor!’  

To get in touch with Rachel… 

e: rking@rda.org.uk 

Page Last Updated: February 21, 2024

Gillian Yarrow Celebrates 50 Years of RDA Service

Gillian Yarrow being presented with a 50 Years of Service Award by North Regional Chair, Pauline Harrison. Gillian and Pauline stand at the centre of a semi-circle of volunteers from Carlise RDA Group.

Gillian Yarrow being presented with a 50 Years of Service Award by North Regional Chair, Pauline Harrison


On the 11th of January 2024 Gillian Yarrow, the Group Chair of Carlisle RDA Group, was presented with the RDA’s 50 Years of Service Award for Volunteering. The award was presented  at a Group lunch by North Regional Chair, Pauline Harrison. Gillian is a dedicated volunteer who for many years has supported participants and volunteers alike through countless competitions, being a regular attender at Regional Qualifiers and the RDA National Championships at Hartpury. In 2023, Gillian’s group celebrated it’s own 50th anniversary, as well as being the host of the North Regional Qualifiers where previous Chair of Trustees and now Honorary Life Vice President, Sam Orde, presented Gillian with an Over and Above Award.

Pauline Harrison, North Regional Chair said:

“I was honoured to present the ‘Long Service’ award to The Chair of Carlisle RDA Group, Gillian Yarrow. Over the fifty years Gillian has inevitably had life difficulties but her dedication, commitment and determination to helping others through RDA never wavered. She has influenced and helped to improve the lives of so many. 

Gillian said to me “I have enjoyed my RDA experience so much, it has taken me so many different places and given me so much“. 

That is typical of Gillian’s outlook and why RDA owe her a huge debt of gratitude.”

Congratulations to Gillian and thank you for your continued dedication to RDA.


Page Last Updated: January 24, 2024

Emma’s Gold Award

Emma receives her Gold Horse care certificate. She is wearing a Christmas Jumper.

Emma receives her Gold Horse care award at Barrow Farm RDA.

Congratulations to RDA participant Emma, from Barrow Farm Riding for the Disabled, on being the first their participant to receive a Gold Award in Horse care.


Emma has cerebral palsy and has been riding at Barrow Farm since she was 15 years old.  Now 10 years later, she has competed successfully both regionally and nationally.    

During the last couple of years some physical difficulties have made riding more difficult for her and she has started carriage driving, which she now loves. Emma has been the Rider Representative on the Trustees since 2012.  She has spoken at fundraising talks for local groups, e.g. Round Tables and has helped at training sessions for volunteers. During the pandemic she was successful in gaining both her Bronze (October 2020) and her Silver (July 2021) Horse Care Awards.  She has been working towards her Gold Award since July 2021.  

The Gold Award consists of 7 modules: 

  • Describing a horse 
  • Grooming 
  • Feeding 
  • Daily care of a horse 
  • The healthy horse 
  • Tack  
  • Farrier  

Emma was helped with her learning by all the coaches at Barrow Farm RDA and would like to thank them for their teaching, their enthusiasm and their support.  They all wrote reports on her knowledge and these were submitted in a portfolio with photos and videos. Emma immersed herself in her learning, taking time to talk to and observe farriers, physiotherapists and saddlers at Barrow Farm and at Ingatestone Saddlers. Her dedication to achieving this award has been amazing and it is very much deserved. 

The award was given to her at Barrow Farm by Barbora Hallam-Skalova, Interim Director of Business Improvement from RDA National during the Barrow Farm Christmas Volunteers’ lunch 2023.  She also received a congratulatory video from Sophie Christiansen, Gold Medal Dressage rider and Emma is now a member of Sophie’s Gold Club.  

Page Last Updated: January 11, 2024

The Cavalier Centre

Philippa Fairhall and Mel Parry on a visit to The Cavalier Centre

Philippa Fairhall and Mel Parry on a visit to The Cavalier Centre

On Thursday 16th November, Mel Parry, our Regional Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator (Yorkshire), and Philippa Fairhall, our new Philanthropy Manager at RDA UK, visited The Cavalier Centre to find out more about two projects run by the group; Stable Relationships (a 12 week 1:1 programme for young people aged between 8-18 with social and emotional problems) and Steps (a 12 week programme delivered in small groups, aimed at out of work adults).  


Both projects focus on emotional wellbeing, mental health and growing confidence and social skills and are drawing in individuals with little to no previous experience of horses.  


It was wonderful to hear firsthand from Rachel Lambert Jones and Jane Johnson the transformation effect of the projects and both Mel and Philippa were very grateful for their time, their shared knowledge and the tour of their amazing centre.  The news of the group’s “Kings Award for Voluntary Service” had just been made public the day before, so it was great to celebrate that and congratulate the whole team on such a prestigious recognition!

Page Last Updated: November 30, 2023

A Visit to Lambourn RDA

On 7th November, our new Philanthropy Manager, Philippa Fairhall, visited Lambourn RDA to meet the team and their Tuesday participants.  It was a busy and enjoyable visit on a beautifully crisp, autumnal morning, with Philippa able to see a group of 7 children from a local special school take part in stable-based activities and riding, as well as two individual riders – a pre-schooler and a young adult – have sessions with their coaches, tailored exactly to their needs.  It was wonderful to chat with teaching assistants, parents and participants and see how much the sessions meant to everyone.  After the morning participants had left, the team also took time to celebrate volunteer Aaron’s 23rd birthday together.  Aaron is a key member of the team, having been a rider with RDA Lambourn since he was 5 years old and the winner of his class at this year’s National Championship’s Countryside Challenge. Aaron has now finished his college course (which included his passion, equine care) and volunteers with the group in various roles up to 6 days a week.  Aaron’s quiet confidence around the horses and his friendship with his fellow volunteers was a clear example of, “It’s what you can do that counts”.  

A huge thank you to Frances Lochrane and whole team who hosted Philippa; it was a great learning experience for Philippa who, new into her role, was very keen to see our work in action before meeting major donors around the country and getting them fired up about our work.

Page Last Updated: November 30, 2023

The Pat Straughan Award 2023 – Khianna Lucas-Young, Bradbourne RDA

Pat Straughan Winner 2023 Khianna Lucas-Young being presented her award by Barbora Hallam-Skalova at the South-East Regional Conference.

Pat Straughan Winner 2023 Khianna Lucas-Young being presented her award by Barbora Hallam-Skalova at the South-East Regional Conference.


On the 25th of October 2023, the Pat Straughan Award was presented at the South-East Regional Conference. The winner of such a prestigious award this year was Khianna Lucas-Young from Bradbourne RDA.  


7 years ago, aged 7, Khianna was diagnosed with leukemia and began a long course of chemotherapy that ended in August 2018.  Soon after she relapsed which resulted in more chemotherapy and radiotherapy before a bone marrow transplant in February 2019, during which time she was in hospital for five months. 

After her treatment, Khianna’s life returned to a “sort of normal” and she returned to school, but on 1 March 2020 she woke and wasn’t able to walk.   She was rushed to hospital but within a few days she was paralysed from the neck down and completely blind. An MRI resulted in a diagnosis of neuromyelitis optical – inflammation of the spinal cord and optical nerve. Khianna and her nan spent the whole of the first Covid lockdown together at Kings Hospital followed by lengthy rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville.    

In November 2021 that Khianna started riding at Bradbourne, having never ridden before. At first she was in a wheelchair, and she rode on the lead rein, but she learned the letters of the school almost immediately and, with speakers and volunteers at letters, she was soon riding independently and finding her way around the indoor school. Just 5 months after her first riding lesson, with immense motivation, concentration and love for what she was doing, Khianna competed in her first dressage test in Walk in April 2022 at Felbridge. Her coach walked around the arena with her, and she did an amazing test. Her next test in May was in an arena on her own at Plumpton and it was here that she qualified for the National Championships. However, it was not to be as it was the weekend of the 2022 heatwave and Bradbourne made the difficult decision not to attend.   

Khianna no longer uses a wheelchair, though her mobility is still compromised, and she never regained her eyesight, and in September last year she began to learn to trot. She was utterly determined to compete in a Walk / Trot test for the Regional Qualifier and to continue to challenge herself.   

What is particularly amazing about Khianna is her always positive attitude, her love and appreciation for her RDA pony, Patch, and the way she inspires every single volunteer who has met her.  She is courageous and full of laughter and humour but committed to improve and push herself to achieve. Though she is nervous before competitions she has a determination that is not often seen, especially in someone so young and who has experienced such life changing illness.    

Khianna qualified at the Regional Dressage event this May at Hickstead and many were in tears. She went on to compete at Hartpury, riding an incredible test and finishing 1st in her Walk & Trot Class.  What an incredible achievement and what a testament to her courage, warmth and beautiful nature. 

The award was presented by Director of Business Improvement at RDAUK, Barbora Hallam Skalova. Barbora said: “I felt truly privileged to be asked to present Khianna with her award. It’s moments like these that remind me of the incredible joy and impact that comes with working for RDA. It’s not just a job; it’s a privilege to be part of such a meaningful community. 

Citation written by Khianna’s Coach, Jenna Leight, SE Region Coach 

Adapted by Pauline Roestenburg, SE Region Chair 

Page Last Updated: November 15, 2023

The Dudley-Smith Award Winners 2023

Helena Vega-Lozano and Ann Miller, Maryculter Carriage Driving group, presenting the Dudley-Smith 2023 Award

Helena Vega-Lozano and Ann Miller, Maryculter Carriage Driving group

Susan Dudley-Smith Award Winners 2023: Ann Miller, George Masson and Arthur Ingram with pony Brodie

Susan Dudley-Smith Award Winners 2023: Ann Miller, George Masson and Arthur Ingram with pony Brodie














The Dudley Smith award is presented to volunteers who have gone ‘over and above’ in supporting carriage driving. This year’s recipients were Ann Miller, George Masson and Arthur Ingram of Maryculter Carriage Driving group who worked tirelessly through the winter, (in the North East of Scotland) to train and prepare their new pony Brodie for assessment so the group would be able to resume in the spring. They were nominated by the Regional Driving Rep for Grampian and Highlands, Diana Milligan, who herself was recognised by Ann Miller as having given huge support to the group.

The award was presented at the recent Grampian & Highland regional gathering by Helena Vega-Lozano who spent 2 days on a visit to the region where she visited the ARC Hippotherapy  and the Highland  Groups as well as spending the afternoon with  45 coaches and  volunteers at the Gathering.

Page Last Updated: November 15, 2023

A Day with the Royal Forest of Dean RDA

October 2023

At National Office at RDAUK, it is essential for members of staff to get out into the volunteer network, to connect with our members and see the people that our activities directly benefit. On the Thursday the 19th of October, Barbora Hallam Skalova Director of Business Improvement at RDAUK, visited the Royal Forest of Dean Driving group. She was also joined by the new Chair Elect Helena Vega-Lozano, Regional Driving Rep Anne Coney and Regional Chair Rachel Vaughan-Johns – who also organised and hosted the visit.  

Barbora’s Travels… 

Well, what can I say, it was simply wonderful to see a group of volunteers so dedicated to our cause! We were greeted by Elizabeth Stephens, and I met with experienced coaches and volunteers, who take care of administrative tasks, logistics, health and safety, escort and most importantly make the most wonderful cups of tea with an array of biscuits.  

I also had a go at driving the carriage under the watchful eye of experienced coach David. It’s much harder than you think, but I really enjoyed it. The most wonderful experience of the day was to see the sheer delight of the participants- some even sing along! 

I know how important role RDA play in lives of many, but to go out there and see it, it’s really heartfelt and makes everything we do worth it. 

Barbora Hallam Skalova and David carriage driving.

Barbora Hallam Skalova, Director of Business and Improvement, and David carriage driving.


Helena Vega-Lozano carriage driving with the Royal Forest of Dean Group.

Chair Elect Helena Vega-Lozano having a go at carriage driving with David.

Anne Coney carriage driving.

National Championships Lead, Anne Coney and David carriage driving.

Page Last Updated: November 1, 2023

Building Relationships and Exploring Partnerships in Scotland

September 2023

Team RDA touring the equine facilities at SNEC.

Team RDA touring the equine facilities at SNEC.


The Edinburgh and Borders Region recently hosted Lisa Davies, Head of Communications & Insight, and Sam Dixon, Trusts Fundraiser, from RDA UK. Accompanied by Kim McCutcheon, Regional Chair and Barbara Manson, Trustee, they visited West Lothian Group, Ravelrig Group and Muirfield Riding Therapy (MRT).

The trip was designed to show the differing Group operating models at work, and showcase the breadth of RDA activities on offer, within the Region. The team met with volunteers and participants, including National Championships competitor Margaret Lupton, from Borders Group. In addition, representatives from the Region, National Office and MRT met with the Scottish National Equine College (SNEC) to discuss a potential equine training partnership (subject to securing funding).  

Sam Dixon measuring how many hands high she is!

Sam Dixon measures up at SNEC!


Lisa said: ‘It was an inspiring and insightful trip for those of us new to RDA. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience at work within RDA Groups, and really helpful for us to be able to see this in action; build relationships; and gain a greater depth of understanding. We’re very grateful to Kim for facilitating this visit, and for everyone who gave us such a warm RDA welcome’.      


Page Last Updated: November 1, 2023

Congratulations to the newest coaches on the PRCA Coach Programme

2023 Selected coaches to the Princess Royal Coach Academy – Coach Programme

Clare Roberts  – RDAC

I have ridden all my life being an active Pony Club member and competed up to Novice level in BD dressage. I have been involved in RDA since a small child, as my mother was one of the founders of our group. I have been coaching at my group for over 30 years. I also coach at Cardiff Riding School, an inner city riding school which is an Accessibility Mark Centre and am a Pony Club DC and coach. I am passionate about making a difference to people’s lives using our wonderful horses.

Gillian Riviere  – RDAC

I’m Gillian, I have recently moved to the Yare Valley group in Norfolk  for school age children. Previously I was with Cambridgeshire College  Group for young adults many of whom  competed at Regional and National Championships. I started with RDA in 2002 with the new South Cambridgeshire group where I was variously, coach, trustee and chair.

I have a retired thoroughbred and a warmblood mare.

I teach English online and I am also an affiliate coach for Flying Changes Mindset which helps people overcome fears and limiting beliefs in their riding.

Helene Hewitt – RDAC

I have been involved with Rda for a number of years and in this time I have coached at several groups and been a county coach.

I have a holistic approach when coaching and working with both riders and horses.

As well as holding my RDAC qualification. I am a BHS APC, a Centre10 APEC Advance Coach, a Certified Practitioner of N.L.P.

I have just gained my Level 3 Diploma in Teaching Pilates ( Practitioner).

Away from teaching l’m involved with my local riding clubs where I regularly build showjumping courses and judge at unaffiliated events.

Jenna Leight – RDAC

I moved to the UK with my family in 1994 and have lived in Kent since. I started volunteering with my local RDA Group in Sevenoaks later that year and continued to increase the hours I spent there as my children got older, becoming a Group Coach in 1998 and taking the RDA Coach exam in 2004.I have served as a County Coach, County Chair and am currently Regional Coach for the SE Region with Fiona Dent as well as continuing as a Group Coach with Bradbourne.

I ride my own horse and enjoy cycling.

Jo Rutherford – RDAC

I started volunteering at Saxon Group in Wiltshire 15 years ago, to give me an interest away from home life, and quickly became hooked. I was persuaded to try coaching in 2011, and worked through the UKCC level 1 and 2 exams, finally doing the RDA coach exam in 2017. I have been an active member of Saxon Group since I started, including being chair for 3 years. Outside of RDA I like to spend my time painting animal portraits to fundraise for the group. I am passionate about volunteering and RDA in particular.

Kym McQueenie – RDAC

I have been a volunteer with RDA for almost 20 years (with a couple of short breaks) and started out as a 14 year old volunteer! I worked up to group coach and then coach level over the years and after a little break decided to make the leap and apply for the PRCA! I recently got back into coaching after a break and very quickly remembered why I love it and I’m really excited to continue my journey on the Princess Royal Coaching Academy.

Olivia Healing – RDAC

I am really looking forward to being a part of the academy. I love coaching and have been since my 17thbirthday, with a strong interest in both dressage and show jumping. Last year I was excited to achieve my level 4 show jumping qualification so I can help riders progress.

I also have been competing BD with some of the Penniwells horses during my spare time and managed to compete at Area Festivals, Regionals and won the Associated Championships on one of them.

I look forward to becoming an advanced coach and progressing further.

Pat Stevens – RDAC

Pat joined RDA in October 2013 and became a Group Instructor the following September. She achieved the UKCC Level 1 in 2017 and has continued as a Coach with two Groups. Since 2018 she has been Secretary, Trustee, Coach and Group Contact with the Ruddington RDA Group. She is active in fundraising events. Recently, she was involved in organising and hosting the Royal Visit for three groups in Nottinghamshire.

She judged Dressage and Countryside Challenge competitions at the Regional Qualifiers.

Her experience with horses has been gained running her own yard including breeding Sport horses and producing them. Currently, she competes her own dressage horse. She supported her two daughters through The Pony Club.

Richard Watson – RDAC

Richard Watson is an award-winning, equestrian, with over 35 years’ experience in the sector. He has set up, and managed, three equestrian businesses, coached over 2,000 riders, sourced horses for the Olympics and Paralympics, in 5 different countries, while also being the National Equestrian Trainer for the Cayman Islands. Richard, has won a Gold Medal in the South African National Dressage Championships, has won multiple Victor Ludlum Awards and, more recently, the “BHS Unsung Hero Award 2021”. He is the COO at Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre, where he oversees the RDA programmes and operations for the centre. Richard is a passionate animal welfare campaigner.

Shirley Hart – RDAC

I live in Beverley in East Yorkshire and am the Coach for Beverley Riding for the Disabled. I am a Nurse by profession and also an Accredited Coach for the BHS. I think my medical and horse knowledge naturally sent me down the RDA pathway.  I am passionate about how horses and the various disciplines they offer can benefit so many people in the RDA. I specialise in dressage training and am keen to promote the Para pathway.

Charlotte Williams – RDAC

I am currently an RDA Coach and have been for 3 years. I have a passion for dressage but enjoy coaching SJ & XC too. I also enjoy watching the joy and sense of achievement in my more disabled and younger participants!

Maz Ray  – RDAC

Page Last Updated: May 31, 2023

Update from RDA UK Board 13.04.23

Progress Update and Announcement of Independent Review

As part of our ongoing commitment to openness, and in the best interest of Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), the Board today announces an independent review into recent events.

On 23 March 2023, the board of RDA received a formal complaint from a group of volunteers. In the days following, the newly arrived CEO, Kathryn England, and then the chair of trustees, Rachel Medill, resigned.

On Friday, 31 March, several members of the Board met representatives of the complainants to better understand their concerns.

Having reviewed the complaint, subsequent events and the results of the meeting the Board has resolved to commission an external review of the key issues raised by the complaint and subsequent resignations, so that independent recommendations can be made. Further information on the scope of the review will be made available once it has been finalised. Meanwhile, the Board has committed to publishing the central findings and acting on them.

Frances Lochrane, Acting Chair, said: “The Board is absolutely committed to upholding the highest standards and values of RDA. We are commissioning an independent review of recent events to help us identify the steps required to take RDA forward in a way that best serves RDA as a whole and our ongoing work providing life-changing experiences for disabled children and adults across the UK.”

“In line with our code of conduct and commitment to excellence, we believe that openness is the best way forward for all involved in RDA. This is why we have decided on an independent review. We will update on the scope of the review once it is agreed, and we will publish the central findings. Given the importance of this work, we encourage all those with an interest in RDA to respect and support the review. We recognise that people will have questions. However, we do not believe it would be right to comment further at this point, as it would be wrong to influence or prejudge the findings.”

“We would once again like to thank our staff, supporters and volunteers for their commitment to delivering exceptional support to our participants and member groups.”

The recent departures were significant, and the complaint is something the Board has taken very seriously. The Board originally self-referred concerns raised through our formal complaints process. Having subsequently received a formal complaint, met the complainants to understand their concerns and considered the issues carefully, the Board is now commissioning an independent review to be led by the investigations team at Narrow Quay HR*. The Board remains absolutely committed to taking RDA forward as a stronger organisation. This approach reflects the desire of the Board to learn any and all lessons that enable it to navigate challenges and deliver a successful future.

RDA will keep everyone informed of the review process and ensure transparency of its central findings. We will provide an update on the scope of the review once finalised. RDA has kept its regulator informed of these issues over the past few months and continues to do so.

RDA remains solid and financially stable. We remain focussed on delivering business as usual, and continual improvement to the services and support we provide. Our overarching mission is alive and well, and we’ll continue to support our amazing network of 438 Groups delivering life changing impact to the disabled community.

*Narrow Quay HR is the trading name of Narrow Quay Consulting Limited, the investigations and HR consulting arm of legal services group VWV, which includes Veale Wasbrough Vizards LLP, the law firm responsible for providing RDA with legal support. Narrow Quay Consulting Limited is a distinct legal entity, which operates separately from Veale Wasbrough Vizards to run independent investigations using clearly delineated systems and teams.’


• There is no further comment at this stage
• We have kept our regulator informed of these issues over the past few months and continue to do so.

Page Last Updated: April 13, 2023

Statement from the RDA Board 29.03.23

It is with great sadness that we announce the separate resignations of both Kathryn England, CEO and Rachel Medill, Chair of Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). We know that this news will come as a shock to many of you, particularly given Kathryn’s recent appointment and it clearly creates a challenge for all of us within RDA.

Over the past few months, it has become increasingly apparent that there has been a significant difference of opinion and concern around changes that have been made and the approach to change taken within RDA over the past couple of years. Unfortunately, although for varying reasons, this difference of opinion has led to the decisions by both Kathryn, last week, and subsequently Rachel this week, to step down. The Board is now considering the issues at hand with urgency and developing an action plan. The Board is committed to understanding this challenge in full and to learn any lessons about how we take RDA forward. We will keep everyone informed of developments.

In the meantime, we are looking to appoint Neil Goldie-Scot as the Interim Chair and have asked Lincoln Clarke to pick up leadership responsibility in the meantime. We are holding a Board meeting on Thursday and will update on progress on Friday.

Neil Goldie-Scot, prospective Interim Chair, said: “This is a very difficult day for RDA and it is incredibly sad that we are losing Kathryn England and Rachel Medill. We want to recognise the incredible work and commitment of our staff and volunteers and we want to apologise to all of you for the concern this is causing. As a Board we are absolutely committed to resolving our differences  and building solid foundations for the future, and we will learn from any issues raised. RDA remains an incredible organisation and we will get through this difficult period to ensure we can continue to deliver our mission and support so many people who benefit from the work we do.”

Kathryn England said: It is with huge regret that I have resigned as Chief Executive Officer of RDA UK. You all know that I took up this role with real pride and enthusiasm. However, I have decided that I am not the person to take the organisation forward at this time. I have met with the Board who, whilst are deeply saddened by my decision, have listened at length and taken my feedback seriously and I am pleased to hear that they are taking forward an action plan.

Rachel Medill said: “After nearly 2 years it is with great sadness that I have informed the Board of Trustees of my decision to resign as chair of RDA UK. I joined at a time of great challenge in the aftermath of the pandemic but also of great opportunity as the organisation looked to increase its number of participants.  I’m proud of the steps we took to build a foundation for its long term future and I hope that the forward looking approach the board has taken will continue.

“I want to pay tribute to the extraordinary nature of RDA – it improves the lives of thousands of people every day through the efforts of over 13,000 people.  It has been a privilege and a pleasure to meet so many of these inspiring people and I wish the organisation every success in the future.”  



  • There is no additional comment at this stage
  • We have informed our President, HRH Princess Anne
  • Over the course of today we are informing staff and volunteers within the RDA family, and our key stakeholders
  • We have also kept our regulator informed of these issues over the past few months and continue to do so.
Page Last Updated: March 31, 2023

Congratulations Coaches! Inductees announced to the Princess Royal Coach Academy Coach Programme

Congratulations to the following Coaches on their successful selection for the 2023 Princess Royal Coach Academy – Coach Programme.

  • Charlotte Williams – West Mercia
  • Clare Roberts – South Wales
  • Jenna Leight – South East
  • Joanna Rutherford – Mid West
  • Kym McQueenie – Edinburgh & Borders
  • Maz Ray – Greater London
  • Patricia Steven – North Midlands
  • Gillian Riviere – East
  • Helene Hewitt – South West
  • Olivia Healing – Greater London
  • Richard Watson – London
  • Shirley Hart – North East & South Yorkshire

The Princess Royal Coach Academy aims to develop coaches with expertise who can support peers and influence coaching programmes that improve participant experiences. Coaches selected for this programme have shown that they are ambitious in improving their own performance and already have success in coaching riders with disabilities; effectively encouraging and challenging participants whilst creating enjoyable, person centred coaching environments.

Additionally, coaches have demonstrated their commitment to the cascading of knowledge and experience to peers across the RDA coaching pathway. Successfully selected coaches are set to benefit from unique learning and development opportunities including established communities of practice which offers exposure to new, innovative and relevant ideas as well as reinforcing successful current practices.

Huge congratulations to all selected!

Page Last Updated: February 14, 2023

RDA UK is looking for new trustees

RDA UK is looking for new trustees

Riding for the Disabled Association UK (RDA) is looking for up to three new trustees to join its board. At least one will be an elected member of the Board i.e. nominated by a member group of the RDA and one will be a Senior Independent Director (SID) who will work closely with the Chair of Trustees, the Board and the CEO.

Riding for the Disabled Association UK (RDA) is looking for up to three new trustees to join its board. At least one will be an elected member of the Board i.e. nominated by a member group of the RDA and one will be a Senior Independent Director (SID) who will work closely with the Chair of Trustees, the Board and the CEO.

At RDA, our horses benefit the lives of disabled children and adults. With fun activities like riding and carriage driving, we provide therapy, fitness, skills development and opportunities for achievement – all supported by 14,000 amazing volunteers and qualified coaches at 432 RDA groups and commercial centres all over the UK.

RDA is an inclusive and diverse organisation. We welcome clients with physical and learning disabilities and autism, and there are no age restrictions. Through our network of member groups, RDA is at work in every corner of the UK, in our cities and remote rural areas, bringing the therapy, achievement and fun of horses to as many people as we can.

Key details:
Job title: Trustees x3 (including 1 SID)
Location: Lowlands Equestrian Centre, Old Warwick Road, Shrewley, CV35 7AX
Salary: Trustee positions at the RDA are voluntary. Agreed expenses are reimbursed.
Term of office: 3 year term renewable for up to 3 terms.

We are looking for candidates who have significant experience in at least one of the following areas:
• Advocacy and policy work in the areas of disability, accessibility, equality, diversity and inclusion.
• Coaching and Education – Practice, Programming and Policy. This experience will have been gained either in RDA or in another sector or organisation.
• Statutory funding, Local Authority commissioning/social prescribing.
• Human Resources strategy and planning in a medium to large organisation.
• Digital transformation – experience in implementing new processes, systems and operating practices in a medium to large organisation.
• Operating at a senior strategic leadership level within a medium to large organisation.
• Charity governance and working with or as part of a Board of Trustees.
For the SID position RDA is seeking someone who will take on extra responsibilities such as chairing the Board in the absence of the Chair; establishing and building an effective and strong working relationship with the Chief Executive; and provide support to the Chair to enable the Board to fulfil its responsibilities for the overall governance and strategic direction of the organisation.

Candidates should:
• Demonstrate a strong and visible passion and commitment to RDA, its strategic objectives and cause.
• Exhibit strong relationship building abilities and be comfortable in an ambassadorial role.
• Demonstrate tact and diplomacy, with the ability to listen and engage effectively.
• Demonstrate an ability to foster and promote a collaborative team environment.
• Have a good understanding of charity governance matters and of risk management and financial controls (essential for the SID position)

Time Commitment
• 4 Board meetings per year. In addition, Trustees will be asked to join one of RDA’s sub-committees.
• All trustees are expected to attend key RDA events and visit RDA groups from time to time.
• The SID is also expected to have regular meetings with the Chair and Chief Executive.
• It is expected that the trustee role will require working on average 3 days per month.

Closing date for applications: 9am, Tuesday 31st January 2023.
• If you would like to receive an Information Pack on how to apply, please send a CV in confidence to our consultant Nick Shanks at nick.shanks@harrishill.co.uk
• For an informal and confidential conversation about either position, please contact Nick at the above address with your contact details, and suitable times to chat.
• Please note: responding to this advertisement will not in itself be considered an application. We will need a CV and a supporting statement addressing the full person specification in the information pack.

Both RDA and Harris Hill operate an equal opportunity policy and commit to treating all of our candidates and jobseekers fairly. We welcome and encourage applications from everyone regardless of age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and marriage and civil partnerships.

Page Last Updated: January 10, 2023

Job Vacancy – Head Girl/Lad at Penniwells RDA

A rewarding role for an enthusiastic, motivated and experienced person. To take the lead on day to day yard duties working with a small team of coaches/grooms and lots of volunteers. A good interest in RDA is vital although coaching training can be given. Ideally the applicant will have BHS Level 3 or equivalent and be keen to coach RDA riders of all levels. You will be involved in training and organising new volunteers along with increasing rider numbers. Plenty of schooling/hacking etc of all horses and ponies for the right applicant. Possibility of own horse. 5 day week with one day working at the weekend. 8am – 5.30pm. live in role with some late checks to be done. Sorry but no pets in accommodation. This is a fun and rewarding working environment – sense of humour is essential along with a real can do attitude.

More information can be found here: https://www.yardandgroom.com/Job/UK/Hertfordshire/Head-Girl-Lad/399644

Page Last Updated: December 13, 2022

Annual Return 2022 – Two weeks left to complete

The RDA National Office would just like to remind all groups that there is just over 2 weeks left to complete the Annual Return for 2022. The deadline is Thursday 20th October.
All information including a guidance document for the Return, who to contact for queries, and the link to the Return, can be found on the dedicated MyRDA page here: https://myrda.org.uk/runningyourg…/annual-return-2022/ We encourage you to read the guidelines document and all the information on the MyRDA page first before beginning your Annual Return.
Every group needs to complete the Return, even if they are currently closed as there are still relevant questions.
If you have any queries or concerns, please get in touch with Laura Cartwright at lcartwright@rda.org.uk or 01926 476302.
Thank you.
Page Last Updated: October 3, 2022

RDA Announces New National Vaulting Lead

Riding for the Disabled Association are delighted to announce that Elizabeth Bennett has been selected as their new National Vaulting Lead.

Lizzie has been involved in RDA for many years, and she is a strong advocate for vaulting both inside and outside of RDA. She has had her own competition success at RDA National Championships as well as British Equestrian Vaulting (BEV). In addition to her own competition success, Lizzie has supported others through her coaching, enabling them to also have competition success. Lizzie is a BEV Level 2 Coach as well as an RDA Vaulting coach.

Lizzie has told us a bit more about herself and her ambitions in this new role:

In September 2014 I started riding with the RDA, thinking that I would never be able to get back to the sport I had loved as a child. I’d had ten long years since breaking my back and just sitting on a horse was really difficult, but the team at Cambridgeshire College RDA built me back up very gradually until I was able to canter and jump again. When I had the opportunity to try vaulting, I was a full-time wheelchair user and had no idea what I’d be able to manage. Again, the patience and enthusiasm of coaches at RDA and Cambridge Vaulting Club meant that I was fully involved in competing and doing displays from my earliest days in the sport.

Fast forward a few years and my entire life has been transformed thanks to vaulting within RDA and British Equestrian Vaulting (BEV). Its taken a long time and a lot of hard work, but I have become so much happier and healthier (despite various injuries!) as a result. I have even been able to start work as a groom at an English Heritage property: caring for the horses, riding in displays (including side saddle), sharing the history of the stables with visitors, learning carriage driving, and doing a fair bit of dressing up!

Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to own Puro, a Dutch Warmblood who I’ve worked with for years as coach, lunger and vaulter. He’s not perfect by any means (just like his owner!) but I trust him in a way I have never trusted any other horse. It’s been a delight to share him with other RDA and Para-vaulters, and to see vaulters from across the country competing on him at Hartpury was a very proud moment. He’s a very good boy!

Coaching within RDA and BEV has allowed me to see in others what I myself have experienced over and over again: not dreams coming true, but rather things that you would never have even thought or known to have dreamed of or wished for. I have stopped limiting myself by what I think I can do, and instead I just keep taking little steps to see where they end up.

I hope to do much the same thing in the role as RDA Vaulting Lead. Vaulting is such an exciting and inspiring activity, and it is accessible to disabled people in a way that riding isn’t. In vaulting, you can have another person on the horse with you for support. You don’t have to sit astride if that’s uncomfortable, and you don’t have to control the horse either. Vaulting is also a great way to learn about horses and to learn to appreciate them: every single thing we do as vaulters is analysed first and foremost in terms of the harmony with the horse. The relationship you can build with a vaulting horse is quite incredible too – in the absence of being able to ‘give’ aids, you switch purely into ‘receive’ mode, and become far more receptive to the horse as a result.

The priorities for RDA Vaulting as we head into 2023 and beyond lie primarily within expanding it. We want more participants, which will mean more coaches, more barrel horses and, in time, more real horses too! Barrel vaulting is a highly competitive activity within RDA, and one which can bring many benefits to participants despite the lack of a ‘real’ horse. It’s also a no-brainer for RDA Groups – barrels don’t tend to eat much or need the farrier, after all. Vaulting in general is cost-effective even when there is a horse involved, as a group of vaulters will all work with just one horse.

In order to create these opportunities for vaulters, we obviously need to train up more coaches. There are lots of misconceptions about vaulting – that it isn’t appropriate for those with physical disabilities, that it’s too specialist for coaches to learn, or that it’s cruel to the horse, for example. We need frank discussion of these things so that people can see vaulting for what it really is and what it can offer.

In the short term, we would like to encourage groups to invest in a barrel (or two!) and to put coaches forwards to train in the basics of barrel vaulting, so it can be offered to participants and start to cut down those waiting lists. I am also hoping to introduce more regulations for horse welfare, many of which are already implicitly in place but could be more overtly stated. Longer term, we need to train more horses and develop coaches further. Although training has to be done by an experienced team, an RDA Vaulting horse needn’t be a special or expensive purchase for a group: all kinds of horses can take to it.

My hope is that we can increase participation in vaulting and also educate people about how it all works and how it can benefit participants, groups and our horses. I have many more plans for beyond that but I think that would be a good start!

Lizzie on Puro standing in stirrups

Lizzie on Puro at the RDA National Championships 2022

Page Last Updated: September 30, 2022

RDA UK Regional Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator

We have vacancies for 2 regional Volunteer Recruitment Coordinators within the Yorkshire region. 

To view the job description, click here

Deadline for applications 5th October 2022

Page Last Updated: September 23, 2022

RDA UK Regional Co-ordinator Vacancy

A vacancy has arisen within the Yorkshire Region to pilot an approach over a 6 month period to stimulate growth in numbers of participants in RDA activities in the North East and South Yorkshire Region.

To view the job description, click here

Deadline for applications 5th October 2022

Page Last Updated: September 23, 2022

RDA Extends its Condolences to the Royal Family Following the Sad Passing of Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth 1926-2022

On Thursday 8th September, the sad news that Her Majesty, The Queen, had passed away was announced. Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), released the following statement: 

The volunteers, participants and staff of Riding for the Disabled Association would like to extend their heartfelt sadness and condolences to the Royal Family, particularly to our President, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal.

Tributes in the coming days will doubtless mention The Queen’s enduring love of and affinity with horses. Her instinctive understanding of the power of horses to do good was a source of inspiration to so many people within our organisation.

We extend our thoughts and sympathy to all our members who may be affected by this news, and hope they will feel able to mark this sad occasion in whichever way they wish.

Condolences and tributes to the Royal Family and Our President have been pouring in from our member groups, which will be passed on to Buckingham Palace.

The funeral is to take place on Monday 19th September. Many RDA groups across the UK will be paying their respects to Her Majesty on Monday.

Page Last Updated: September 15, 2022

Congratulations coaches – Princess Royal Coach Academy chooses coaches for its Coach Programme 2022

Congratulations to the following Coaches on their successful selection for the inaugural Princess Royal
Coach Academy – Coach Programme 2022:

  • Susan Law – Edinburgh, Lothian, and Borders
  • Andi Bruce – West & Central Scotland & Grampian & Highland
  • Frances Cape – Edinburgh and Borders
  • Laura Winter – North
  • Shirley Hart – East Yorkshire & Ryedale
  • Alys Lewis-Jones – North Wales
  • Kady Chatman – Mid West
  • Peggy Douglas – South West
  • Lizzie Hill – West Mercia
  • Holly McConnell – South East
  • Kate Gordon – Greater London
  • Natalie O’Rourke – Greater London
  • Louise Einchcomb – East
  • Kate El Bizanti – South East
  • Clare Pettitt – East
  • Kath Hatwell – East
  • Kate Bailey – North West
  • Clare Skinner – East
  • Alex Henderson – Grampian & Highland
  • Lorna Clark – Grampian & Highland

The Princess Royal Coach Academy aims to develop coaches with expertise who can support peers
and influence coaching programmes that improve participant experiences.

Coaches selected for this programme have shown that they are ambitious in improving their own
performance and already have success in coaching riders with disabilities; effectively encouraging and
challenging participants whilst creating enjoyable, person centred coaching environments.
Additionally coaches have demonstrated their commitment to the cascading of knowledge and
experience to peers across the RDA coaching pathway.

Successfully selected coaches are set to benefit from unique learning and development opportunities
including established communities of practice which offers exposure to new, innovative and relevant
ideas as well as reinforcing successful current practices.

Huge congratulations to all selected!

Page Last Updated: March 3, 2022

Letter from UK Sport & Sport England about tackling racism in sport

The Chief Executives of Sport England and UK Sport have issued a joint letter regarding racism in sport, a copy of which you can find here. RDA is committed to greater equality, diversity and inclusion within our organisation, with a volunteer working party already in place to address this vital issue. For more information about this group and our commitment to ED&I please contact Lucy Wake lwake@rda.org.uk

UK Sport and Sport England – Joint Letter to Governing Bodies

Page Last Updated: January 19, 2022

Launch of Princess Royal Coaching Academy

On Friday 5 November The Princess Royal launched a new national Coaching Academy for RDA and announced the first Coach Mentors who are integral to the programme’s success.  The Academy, which will include training for newly appointed ‘Coach Mentors’, who have been selected from RDA’s existing Advanced Coach workforce, was officially launched by Her Royal Highness on a visit to RDA’s National Training Centre in Warwickshire.

The Princess Royal Coaching Academy recognises the importance of high performing coaches working with disabled riders. The initiative will increase the number of coaches moving to advanced training, which in turn will increase the number of disabled people RDA can support, helping to tackle waiting lists and unmet demand for its services at groups all over the UK.

Speaking to RDA UK volunteers, Coaches and staff, The Princess Royal referenced the early pioneers of RDA Coaching:

“It was that early understanding and example of standards that has made the organisation what it is. And for those of you who have followed in those footsteps and developed in your own ways in your own groups and in your own areas, there is a huge amount we have learned. I hope you will agree that the Coaching Academy is an appropriate use of that experience – and will make all of that experience go a little bit further, to encourage more people to take their places in the RDA, and to make that change for each of those individuals that they come across.”

The Academy is named after The Princess Royal, on the 50th anniversary of her becoming the RDA’s Patron in 1971 (she became President in 1985).

Ed Bracher, CEO of Riding for the Disabled Association, said:

“We are enormously excited to launch our new Coaching Academy. Our coaches lie at the heart of the RDA’s work and through the Academy, we aim to nurture talent, innovation and excellence. This is a core part of our plan to dramatically increase the number of disabled people we can support by our 60th anniversary in 2029. We are delighted that The Princess Royal has agreed to lend her name to the Academy, fifty years after she first became involved with RDA.”


John Studzinski CBE, the philanthropist who is supporting the first two years of the Academy, said:

“I am delighted to support this excellent new initiative from the RDA. The Coaching Academy will strengthen the RDA’s provision of training and support for its volunteers, coaches and mentors. Ultimately this will provide an even better experience for all the disabled children and adults the charity helps. I first got to know about the RDA over 10 years ago and was immediately struck by the value of its work. For me, above all else, RDA brings human dignity to people, which is a recurring theme across my philanthropic interests.”


Karen Thompson, RDA UK National Coaching Lead and newly appointed Mentor for The Princess Royal Coaching Academy says:

“I am honoured and privileged to be in the first cohort of Mentors for The Princess Royal Coaching Academy, and look forward to supporting RDA coaches through their Advanced training. I hope they will find it useful to have a sounding board – someone they can discuss ideas and concerns with – and who they can learn from. It’s great that RDA is recognising the experience and value of its senior Coaches, who have learned so much over many years, and providing a way for that expertise to be shared and passed on – not just for the benefit of other coaches, but ultimately so that more disabled people can take part.”

The first Mentors are:

  • Karen Thompson, RDA UK National Coaching Lead and Kesteven Rideability
  • Sarah Healing, Greater London Regional Coach and Penniwells RDA
  • Mark Cunliffe, National Coach Developer and North Cornwall RDA
  • Sister Mary Joy Langdon, Coach Developer and Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre
  • Sue Adams-Wheeler, Honorary Life Vice President, former National Coaching Lead
  • Bridget Mackwood, Mid West Regional Coach and Lyncombe Lodge RDA
  • Karen Glasgow, Edinburgh & Borders Regional Coach and Drum RDA
Page Last Updated: November 12, 2021

Human Equine Interaction Register consultation

I am writing in my capacity as Chair of the Steering Group to establish a Human Equine Interaction Register (HEIR) for which the need was discussed at a meeting of Horses in Education and Therapy International (HETI) back in 2019. I am delighted to say that now things are returning to some recognition of normal, we have been able to make some progress towards making the register a reality.

The aim of the register is to bring together all people involved in the field of human equine interaction to ensure high quality service provision and create a greater awareness of their work. It was agreed that this was needed to offer a greater level of protection and safety for all those involved in the sector whether that be the providers, commissioners, service users or horses.

Greater transparency of attainment of minimum standards in such areas as safeguarding, first aid, equine welfare and insurance will be the first base for self-registration and there will follow an opportunity to demonstrate skills, experience and knowledge as applicable. This is so that funders and service users will be able to make informed choices about the service being offered at all levels of practice. It is not intended that the register will be an accrediting body as that is already in place with the different professions involved.

Over the coming weeks we will be engaging with the sector to seek your views about the proposals. The register will be created with and not to commissioners, practitioners and service users for mutual benefit. If all goes to plan, we hope to open an online survey on Monday 27th September for 5 weeks for people to respond to the proposals and give feedback about how the register will work in practice.

However, we want to make sure that everyone has sufficient information to make an informed response so we have arranged a series of virtual and physical briefing session to explain the plans in more detail and offer an opportunity for questions.

If you would like to attend, please register for any of the following so that we can plan accordingly and in particular, make sure that the face to face event is Covid safe.

Wednesday 6th October 2.30-4pm Online Webinar

Register to attend here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/human-equine-interaction-register-webinar-1-tickets-170493755412


Tuesday 12th October at 6.30pm – 8pm Online webinar

Register to attend here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/human-equine-interaction-register-webinar-2-evening-option-tickets-170497117468


Friday 15th October 11am – 3pm at RDA HQ, Warwickshire



If you wish to email us with a question at any time we can be contacted at heiruk@hetifoundation.org and there is more information on the website at UK National Register – HEIR | HETI Federation

We will be providing regular updates on the HEIR Facebook page so please like, follow and share to stay in touch Human Equine Interaction Register UK – Home | Facebook

Best wishes,

Ed Bracher

Page Last Updated: September 15, 2021