Latest News


9 November 2019

Horrid Injury
Feeling a bit better now!

Murphy, one of our oldest, best and most reliable ponies has injured himself out in the field at the weekend. The vet came to see him, stitched him up and gave him antibiotics and pain killers.

Murphy is now on box rest for at least 2 weeks. Many thanks to Carol looking after him.

All of this is essential but very costly for us, so we are asking if anyone could possibly donate towards the vet’s fees or hay/bedding costs whilst he is recovering.

Our ponies are the tools of the therapy we give to riders from local special needs schools; we depend on them.

Any help no matter how small will be gratefully received.

Please donate through our Virginmoneygiving page here. Thank you.


Our new Database for Rider and Volunteer Records is now up and running. At any one time we expect to be responsible for 1,000+ past and present records, so the centralisation of these records on a secure computer platform, under the overall control of a System Administrator will mean that all the steps of processing volunteer and rider records can be carried out by the people tasked with that job. We hope that computerisation will mean nothing can be missed out or not done!

All Coaches and Class Organisers are currently being trained by Lindsay Morris who has given up an enormous amount of effort and time to mastermind the database - HUGE AND GRATEFUL THANKS, LINDSAY.

Without the support of all those who contributed to our Database Fundraising Project we would not have got it off the ground - thank you.


17 October 2019

A team of volunteers from Rapid 7 returned, for the third year in succession, to help us out on a wet and soggy day (similar to last year!).

In between the showers a significant length of the fencing was painted. Some more lucky volunteers, got a drier job, clearing out one of the Stallion boxes and a shed in order to give us more storage space. Finally, after quite a lot of frustration, due to the extra hard wood and the drill battery dying, a new partition was built in Bandit and Patchy’s stable in order to keep them separate.

As always, we are hugely grateful to all of the volunteers from Rapid 7 for, once again, taking on all the jobs with such gusto.

Autumn Gift Fair

26 September 2019

Thursday 26th September saw Hillfields Farm once again host the Autumn Gift Fair under predominantly sunny skies. The weather has been on our side for some years now which is a huge bonus not only for all our stallholders but in particular for our wonderful catering team who provided delicious homemade lunches and teas.

The atmosphere this year was one of positive enthusiasm despite the political turmoil hanging over us all. Our 60 stallholders enjoyed a steady stream of visitors all day right through to the end of the day. Sales were up on last year which can only mean an interesting selection of stalls and a willingness by shoppers to keep on purchasing. Our new ‘Food Hall’ which included stalls selling pies, salamis, breads, fudges and more was a successful addition to the event.

As ever the RDA cake stall was a popular stop before heading into the café area where homemade cakes and biscuits were a delicious precursor to the amazing lunch choices offered by Nicola Markham. Her homemade scotch eggs and sausage rolls along with her sublime salmon and salads always wow our diners. A small glass of wine never goes amiss either.

Overall the funds raised from the 2019 Fair reached almost £14,000 which was up on last year (£13,500). Yet another great contribution towards the running costs of Wyld Court Stables which enables local disabled children to continue to learn and enjoy themselves in this dedicated RDA facility.

Our thanks go once again to Nigel and Carol Steljes for allowing us to use Hillfields for this very worthy event and to all the volunteers who put in the time to help make the Fair happen. Thanks also goes to all the stallholders and shoppers who helped us achieve such a fabulous amount of money.

The date for next year’s Fair will be Thursday 24th September. If you already have your 2020 diaries please save the date now. You won’t want to miss it.

Hewlett Packard Work Party

20 September 2019

20 September, was a beautiful early autumn day. Members of HPE Ecosystems sales team came to volunteer their time to do all sorts of jobs that we simply don’t have time to do such as hedge trimming, grass cutting, strimming and endless amounts of painting – they were hugely efficient and well organised – just fantastic!

Thank you all for the difference you have made.

Work Experience

Summer 2019

Over the past few months we have had three work experience students.

Niamh came at the end of the summer term to help Danielle and whilst with us she had her first riding lessons.

Kira and Fergus came at the beginning of this term and were put to unlikely tasks such as painting our picnic tables in interesting colours.

We enjoyed having all three of them – thank you for your help and good luck with your studies!

Work Party from The Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate

Monday 22 July

On 22 July, we were very pleased to welcome a party of volunteers from The Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate which is a new part of the Department of International Trade that will investigate allegations that other countries have unfairly subsidised goods sold in the UK or dumped them post Brexit. The team is based in Reading and was created by the Government earlier this year. The visit to RDA was the first volunteering day staff have under taken together.

11 volunteers arrived before 9 am and worked very hard and efficiently. They enjoyed the challenges that had been set for them and very much appreciated the views and venue.

Jenny Whiteman and Danielle had many jobs to be tackled so the volunteers divided into small groups to carry out the following:

• rake the indoor school, which must have been hot work - it is now beautifully smooth and flat
• wash and sort the learning props for our lessons
• weed the garden and the small turnout area
• mend a downpipe and reinstate the guttering in the same turn out area
• mend the headcollar box and put it back in place on the fence
• sort the jodhpurs by size, which will ease the fitting out of new riders in September
• wash the grooming kits
• clear ragwort from the fields
• and finally, so that the “Countryside” paddock can be ‘topped’, all the movable obstacles were cleared and stored tidily, after the storage area had been cleaned and reorganised

Claire Bassett, Chief Executive, gave them a BBQ lunch and everyone left just before 3 pm, hot, dirty but happy that had achieved so much and feeling that they had helped us get things in order for the new term.

Grateful thanks from all at Newbury RDA for the team’s marvellous hard work on a hot sunny summer’s day.

Balmoral Class 2019

Scroll through the photographs to see Balmoral Class enjoy their riding


Saturday 13 July

Three of our riders qualified to attend the RDA Championships. This is a great opportunity for them to compete against riders from all over the country. In the past, when we have qualified for the Championships, we have competed on the Sunday of the three days of the event, however, because of other commitments we went on Saturday this year.

Ben, Eli and Isabelle arrived beautifully turned out but only two ponies turned up! This was because Bandit, who suffers from COPD which makes him wheeze and cough, was found to be doing just that when Danielle went to get him in on the morning of the show. So, he was ‘off sick’.

In the Countryside Challenge class with two helpers (leader and side-walker), Isabelle riding Ziggy came fifth with the very good score of 82.6%, despite Ziggy being a bit spooky to start off with.

In the second Countryside Challenge class (with a leader only), both Ben and Eli, who had trained on Bandit, had to share Genesis (Gen). At the Championships, the riders walk the course beforehand but the ponies are now allowed to! Ben rode first introducing Gen to the unknown course which gave Eli a bit of an advantage when he went into the arena later. Eli had NEVER ridden Gen before but he was thrilled to, at last, be able to ride a big horse!

When the results came out Ben was second with 80.5% and Eli was first with 85.5%. Being first in a class means that the combination of rider and horse are put forward for an overall award covering all the different Countryside Challenge classes on the day. Eli and Gen won the overall Championship Trophy with their score of 85.5% beating the seniors. Many congratulations to Eli and Gen, who really was a star.

These results only happen as a result of a great deal of effort. We are very grateful to all those involved for their commitment; particular thanks to Jane Allen, Jenny Whiteman and Cassilda Courtier-Dutton who spent so much time training the riders for both the Regional and National Shows and to all those who volunteered to help out at both events.

We are very grateful to Danielle for all her hard work turning out the ponies so beautifully and for her work training the ponies and to Danielle and her husband, Martin, who towed the ponies to Hartpury.

All the ponies competing at Hartpury were given gold plaques to put on their stable doors to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Riding for the Disabled Association.

A wonderful end to the year. Well done everyone!


After 7 years of wonderful service Bungle has deservedly retired to his owner’s farm. He has been the most able and beautifully mannered pony who, prior to becoming an RDA pony, had a most illustrious career as a show pony. Whilst with us he was a star at RDA competitions.

In lessons he never put a foot wrong, was very obedient enabling children to gain self- confidence and therefore improve their riding ability quickly. Not surprisingly he was a great favourite so had to have his riding limited, especially in his latter years.

He loved competitions, knew exactly how to behave and won many rosettes making his riders and their parents very proud. Bungle qualified for the National Championships twice and competed at the Regional Show on many occasions.

In 2017 at the National Championships at Hartpury, Bungle and his rider came first in their class and were overall champions in that category over the three days of competition with the amazing score of 93%. This was after a tyre blew out on the pony trailer driving to Hartpury from Newbury on Birdlip Hill. After the tyre was repaired with the ponies still on board, they arrived late. Sue Mack judging said if you can get here before the class finishes, they can compete. Poor Bungle had his tack thrown on in haste and rushed down to the ring with no warm up and won! A reflection on his wonderful temperament!

In 2018 Bungle qualified for Hartpury and was placed 3rd in his Countryside Challenge class with a score of 85%.

letter from a grandparent from one of his riders:

"First let me thank you for the sterling work that you do with the children. We were able to see our grandson from Winchcombe school on Friday. He loves riding and it has given him great confidence when he struggles in his everyday life. When he first started riding he took a particular liking to Bungle so I started to write short bedtime stories about the pony including him and his sister in the tale. These included Bungle Goes to the Dentist and Bungle Goes to Town "

Bungle was very much a summer pony and hated the rain! He always had a shelter in his paddock. He has had a busy life, giving much enjoyment to many children – we wish him well in his retirement. We are very grateful to the Goodenough family for lending us such a special pony.

The Berkshire County Training Day

13 June 2019

The Berkshire County Training Day was held at Wyld Court on Thursday 13th June. It was well attended and seemed to be enjoyed by the attendees despite it being a very cold and wet day.

We began with a session on writing lesson risk assessments and managing safety, identifying hazards laid out in the school, spotting the deliberate mistake in Gen's tack. Volunteer Lindsay arrived late with phone ringing in open sandals, lots of sparkling dangling jewellery, scarf and coat flapping. A spot of light entertainment which gave everyone a laugh.

Frances Lochrane spoke on charity law and the upkeep of horses in Goups, once they have finished their useful RDA life.

Our Regional Vet was scheduled to speak on the 'Care of the Elderly Horse' but was unable to come at the last minute owing to work commitments. Tony Bradley, a former Trustee of Newbury RDA, very kindly stepped in at the last minute to give us a very interesting and professional talk on grassland management. It was a very new subject to training days and the audience was fascinated; Tony has had a very interesting career in Estate Management.

Jane Allen finished off, demonstrating on Gen, on how to school and bring on RDA horses. Bandit and Ziggy came into the school to prepare them for crowds when they go to the National Championships next month.

Wellington RDA Regional Horse Show

19 May 2019

Jenny Whiteman reports that eight riders and three horse/ponies - Genesis, Bandit and Ziggy went to the RDA Regional Show at Wellington on Sunday 9 May and all came home proudly wearing rosettes. Seven riders entered the Countryside Challenge Competition and four riders the Dressage

The ponies had all been bathed and plaited and looked very smart thanks to Danielle's care. It was the first time that all three ponies had been to the Regional Show; they did very well but were a little nervous. Ziggy found the life size black and white pig from a butcher's shop on the countryside challenge course very scary! However, all three got through to the Nationals, which was very impressive since it was their first time.

Three riders qualified in the Countryside Challenge Competition for the Championships at Hartpury which is the biggest equine event for disabled riders in the world. To qualify for Hartpury, the riders have to come first or second in their class and get over 70%. Isabelle on Ziggy was second in her class, Ben on Genesis came second in his class and Eli on Bandit was third in her class and, because it was such a large class, the first three qualified so she is also going to the Championships. Chloe, Reighan, Rocco and Gabriel all did well and won rosettes but did not qualify this year.

Jodee riding Genesis did very well in the dressage test and came first in her class with 71% but, because there is not a class for led blind riders, she did not qualify for Hartpury which is a shame. Isabelle came 3rd, Chloe 5th and Ben 6th in their dressage classes so all won smart rosettes.

All the riders had a great day out!

big thank you to the volunteers who came to the Show to help, it was very kind of them to give up their Sunday. They said they very much enjoyed it and we certainly could not have done without them!

Vodafone Work Party – 16 May 2019

On Thursday 16 May a Volunteer Work Party from Vodafone, Newbury, gave up their time for a day to carry out much needed jobs for us.

The Volunteers worked really hard tidying up the Countryside Challenge, painting wood round the hazards so that we can now see where we are going (!), fixing fencing and cutting back some of the longer grass....with hand held hedge cutters, which must have been hard work and back breaking!

lot of weeding was done outside the stable block and all the doors were washed down so they now look wonderfully clean and bright again.

The cobwebs that could be reached in the indoor school were removed - this is a job that has not been done for a considerable time!

We are always so grateful to all Volunteer Work Parties. They do all the jobs that we are unable to do ourselves due to time constraints, so a big thank you to Helen May and her team – please come again!


On Sunday 24th March, Newbury RDA opened its doors to the public at Wyld Court Stables. Over 200 people came to look around the stables, meet the ponies and chat to the volunteers. It was a huge success, and everybody seemed to have a good time.

During the afternoon, there were riding displays by three of our riders, Jodee, Isabelle and Olivia. We were so fortunate with the weather. In spite of a cool breeze, it was warm enough for one of the riding displays to take place outside in one of the paddocks, in the sunshine.

It was especially enjoyable to see so many of the children who ride at the stables come with their families for the afternoon and to take part in the children’s activities, which included a treasure hunt and quiz.

Homemade cakes and tea were served throughout the afternoon.

A total of £483 was raised to go towards Newbury RDA funds.

The Trustees of Newbury RDA would like to thank Sally Sanderson and Jo Stevenson-Hamilton for masterminding the open afternoon; to Jane Allen and Cassilda Courtier-Dutton for putting on the indoor and outdoor riding displays respectively and to all those volunteers who helped to ensure that everyone had a happy and enjoyable afternoon.

Special thanks go to our Stable Manager, Danielle, who turned out all of the ponies beautifully, especially the three ponies used for the riding displays who were all neatly platted. The stable yard was spotless!

Our ponies in the February snow taking advantage of some delicious haylage and enjoying a sunny day.

29 January 2019 - Sarah Heynen, Chair Elect of Riding for the Disabled Association, visits Newbury RDA

On a very cold Tuesday in January we were pleased to welcome Sarah Heynen, the Chair Elect of Riding for the Disabled Association (to which we are affiliated) when she visited Newbury RDA. She attended 2 classes – here she is being shown how to mount by rider Isabelle and her Coach, Cassilda.

Sarah joins Riding for the Disabled Association from the commercial world where she sat on the UK Executive Board, as Vice President Marketing, for brands such as McVitie’s, Jacob’s and Godiva. She brings with her significant expertise in building brands, developing relevant growth strategies and in nurturing strong, long-lasting relationships with key stakeholders.

Sarah is an active supporter of fundraising events within her village and is set to become a weekly volunteer at the Cotswold RDA from January. With 2 horses of her own and a teenage daughter, she appreciates first-hand the therapeutic benefit horses can bring.

Sarah is very much looking forward to joining the team at Riding for the Disabled Association’s Head Office in Warwickshire at the end of March 2019

Monday 28 January 2019 - South Region training for the new Coach Passports introduced in 2018

On 28 January, 30 new coaches from all over the South Region: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire, came for training at Newbury RDA.

Riding for the Disabled Association introduced a new training pathway in the Autumn. The training day was set up to assess and understand the new passport which requires all new coaches to carry out more training before becoming Group Coaches. A total of 8 modules have to be completed including practical and theory elements before being assessed.

Joint South Region Coaches, Felicity Smettem and Theresa Drake assisted by Suzanne Stratford and Jenny Whiteman (County Coaches), came to teach a Horse Care and Knowledge module followed by a Medical Therapy module taught by Nona Dane, the Regional Physiotherapist.

We learned about horse feeding and how to manage pasture; travelling with horses (the rules and regulations) and, using Newbury RDA ponies, we had to work out and assess which horse a rider should ride, taking in to account height, gait and build, to give them the best ride as well as how to judge the condition of the pony. We were taught about tacking up and special equipment that can be used in an RDA session.

Nona’s physiotherapy module was centred around why a rider should and shouldn’t ride, including working through riders’ medical conditions, that we normally see, using special assessment forms.

We went home full of new information and very cold!

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