Cotswold Riding for the Disabled

Cotswold Riding for the Disabled

At a glance


  • Learning disabilities / difficulties
  • Sports

Other details

Geographical remit: 


At Cotswold Riding for the Disabled we believe that life is about what you CAN do. Our riders all have a disability whether that’s physical, mental or a learning difficulty, but we are here to help them achieve the very best they can whatever the disability or whatever the age.

Research shows that riding provides a particular form of physiotherapy that is extremely beneficial to children and adults, dramatically enhancing daily life. The horse’s warmth and three dimensional movement is transmitted through the rider’s body, gradually making it more relaxed and supple, strengthening core stability, reducing spasms and improving balance, posture and co-ordination.

Cotswold RDA statistics show that its activities have a significant impact on riders: 71% showed greater willingness and ability to communicate; 68% demonstrated physical improvement, 88% greater confidence and 79% enjoyment over just 12 weeks; 82% showed improved relationship building skills; 73% showed advances in horsemanship.

And we definitely see that in our work. Kai is 5 years old and suffers from complex emotional issues and is in long term fostering. He was initially very apprehensive but after a few weeks began to build rapport with instructor, helpers and his pony. At school teachers saw a real step change in his confidence since he started riding with improvements in listening skills and ability to follow simple instructions.

Cotswold RDA is an independent charity affiliated to the national Riding for the Disabled Association. First opened in 1965 Cotswold RDA celebrated its 50th year in July 2015 with a visit from Riding for the Disabled Association national President HRH The Princess Royal. Today the charity works with in excess of 225 riders per week supported by over 160 volunteers. Our youngest rider is 4 years old and our oldest is 75 years young! and all ages in between. All our riders have a wide range of physical, mental disabilities or learning difficulties.


Based at Cheltenham Racecourse, our riding school has an indoor arena equipped with a hoist for wheelchair users, an outdoor menage, Sensory Walk and stalls for the ponies.  Pony and wheelchair friendly sensory walk and a mechanical horse equipped with specialised RDA programmes.

We cost £230,000 a year to operate and generate around £70,000 from our riders.  We actively fundraise by hiring out our arena when we are not riding, working with the local community e.g. Sunrise Rotary, local WI groups and local, regional and national companies.  We receive no statutory funding and so donations from individuals, trusts and companies are very gratefully received.

We hope you find the brief outline of our work as inspiring as we do; your support will ensure we can continue to provide this amazing service in the years to come.

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