Ready to ride?

Treatment with the help of the horseTreatment with the help of the horse

Aldersbrook Riding School are seeking disabled 11- to 25-year-olds who are currently 'inactive' to take part in subsidised horse riding courses. School director Christine Sherret reports.

There has been a riding for the disabled group based at Aldersbrook Riding School in Manor Park since the early 1970s. The group, now known as the Aldersbrook and Wanstead Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), focuses on using horses and ponies to provide therapy, achievement and enjoyment for people with both developmental and physical disabilities by providing horse riding and carriage driving lessons.

Aldersbrook and Wanstead RDA is part of a network of 500 volunteer groups that make up the national RDA, and we support horse riding lessons and hippotherapy (which literally means 'treatment with the help of the horse') in Redbridge and the surrounding area. Although we are a member group of the national charity, we receive no funding from them and each member group must carry out its own fundraising activities and seek its own volunteers. Our group raises funds by holding a number of events, including our annual Christmas fancy dress parade through Aldersbrook and by offering donkey rides at the annual donkey derby in Theydon Bois.

In 2011, following three years of research in obesity, exercise and physical health, the Department of Health published guidelines on how much physical activity people should be doing to achieve health benefits. Then, in 2015, Sport England carried out an extensive survey of various groups within the UK called the Active Sport Survey, which identified groups of people that generally failed to meet those guidelines. They found that only 17.2% of disabled people aged 16 and over played sport regularly, making them one of the largest inactive groups. On the basis of this information, we applied for and have been awarded a £3,840 Sportivate grant.

Sportivate is a £56m lottery-funded programme that gives youngsters who are not particularly sporty access to free or subsidised coaching in a range of sports.

In order to meet our commitment for this project, we are looking for participants between the ages of 11 and 25 who suffer from a disability and are currently inactive (defined as taking part in sport for less than 30 minutes a week, not including sport carried out at school). Those meeting the requirements are welcome to join us for a six-week subsidised course of hour-long horse riding lessons running until the end of December. Courses cost £10 a week, with the balance paid from the Sportivate grant. Unfortunately, due to the limited facilities at Aldersbrook Riding School, we can only take ambulant participants.

Aldersbrook Riding School is located on Empress Avenue, Manor Park, E12 5HW. Subsidised horse riding courses for disabled 11- to 25-year-olds run on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (£60 per six-week course). For more information, call 020 8530 4648 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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