Eight year old, Isabelle, has achieved national acclaim for her riding skills, developed thanks to the magnificent volunteers and ponies of Newbury Riding for the Disabled (RDA), based at Wyld Court Stables, Hampstead Norreys. 

Last year, she won the regional Countryside Challenge and second in the dressage competition, and then came third in the National competition at Hartpury in Gloucestershire.

Isabelle, who has cerebral palsy, started riding at Newbury RDA in 2015, when she was just 4 years old. She is one of 80 children and teenagers from local schools, with a wide range of disabilities, who come for physical therapy in the form of riding lessons, and to gain immensely from the experience and joys of being with the horses.

Isabelle’s mother, Laura, highlighted her love of ponies started when she was a baby, as she has been lucky enough to be around ponies all her life. “Horse riding has had a huge impact on Isabelle, as it has helped her build up muscle, posture and core strength which have been vital to help with her being as mobile as possible.

“She has gained a huge amount of confidence from her achievements in riding with the Newbury RDA.” The instructors from the RDA centre create exercises specifically for each rider, based on their individual needs, which they make fun and enjoyable.

Regular weekly sessions build up an incredible relationship and bond between the children and the ponies. It also helps to develop whole new skills and interaction, with Isabelle this year attaining 100% in her Grade 1 & 2 in the RDA Proficiency Tests for Horse Care and Riding. 

“Newbury RDA is a voluntary organisation and we are always looking for volunteers to assist with the children, ponies or just the general upkeep,” explained Lucy Hanbury, Newbury RDA Chairperson. “If you are interested, please do get in touch with us. 

“We can only carry out our life-changing activities thanks to the generosity of our donors, the dedication of our volunteers and the good nature of our fantastic ponies,” Lucy added.

Riding for the Disabled (RDA) is a charity where horses benefit the lives of over 25,000 disabled children and adults. With fun activities like riding and carriage driving it provides therapy, fitness, skills development and opportunities for achievement – all supported by 18,000 amazing volunteers and qualified coaches at nearly 500 RDA centres all over the UK.