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Horse Riding

We have been taking children horse riding at Gaddesden Place RDA Centre for more than 30 years and strongly believe in the benefits of therapeutic horse riding.

Just 9 miles from Weatherfield Academy, Gaddesden Place RDA is found amongst the tranquil woodland and village cricket green of Briden's Camp, near Hemel Hempstead.

The opportunity to go horse riding is open to all pupils from year 9 to year 14. As pupils reach year 9 we send out letters inviting parents and carers to give permission for their child to be considered for a place. There are also forms to complete for Gaddesden Place RDA. The lessons take place each week on Wednesday and Friday, leaving the Academy at 11 am and returning at 2:30 pm, throughout the school year. We can take a maximum of 10 pupils in each session.

Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic riding is an emerging field in which horses are used as a tool for physical therapy, emotional growth and learning. Many riders experience a connection to the horse that few sports can create. For those riders who cannot walk, or find walking difficult, the horse is their vehicle of transport. Not only does this help raise their self-esteem but it

also teaches them essential skills.

It improves balance, creates trust and creates a friendship between rider and horse. The benefits of horse riding are as numerous as the types of disabilities and conditions served. Research shows that students who participate in therapeutic riding can experience physical, emotional and mental rewards. Because horse riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength.

For individuals with mental, emotional or learning disabilities, the unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience and self-esteem. The sense of independence found on horseback

benefits all who ride. The therapeutic qualities of horse riding are recognised by many medical professionals.


Individuals of all ages, with a wide range of physical, cognitive and/or emotional disabilities benefit from therapeutic horse riding and other equine activities. The types of disabilities and conditions served include:


  • Amputee                        

  • Autism                     

  • Accident/Stroke

  • Brain Injuries   

  • Cardiovascular

  • Cerebral Palsy

  • Downs Syndrome

  • Emotional Disabilities

  • Hearing Impairments

  • Learning Disabilities

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Muscular Dystrophy

  • Post Polio Speech Impairments

  • Spina Bifida

  • Spinal Cord Injuries

  • Visual Impairments


All are welcomed by experienced and fully qualified instructors and trained volunteers at Gaddesden Place RDA.


For detailed information about the work done at Gaddesden Place RDA visit their website by clicking on the link:

Can my child gain any qualifications from Horse Riding?

Yes they can - proficiency Test Grades 1,2 & 3 Riding and Horse Care 


Gaddesden RDA offers our pupils certificates in Grades 1,2 & 3 Riding and Horse Care. These are nationally recognised qualifications. The instructors decide when they consider pupils to be ready for these certificates as a certain level of riding competence is required. The pupils are then tested by a qualified external examiner.

All in all, we hope to make the 'horsey' experience offered through Weatherfield Academy and Gaddesden Place RDA an all-around enjoyable, life-enhancing experience for our children.

Equine Therapy

What is it? Interaction with a horse, designed to build emotional awareness, develop self-awareness, confidence, empathy, mental resilience and mental well-being.

Caring for and interacting with animals has many proven health benefits as it provides people with companionship, comfort and a strong sense of well-being. It is no surprise that animals have been used for therapeutic purposes throughout history.

While a range of animals can be used in therapy, equine therapy has been found to be particularly effective in helping people process and change negative behaviours.

Gaddesden Place RDA has been using equine therapy for a number of years. Sessions are tailored to individual or group needs and led by suitably qualified Facilitators.

There are many aspects to Equine Therapy:

  • It is being in a beautiful environment with lovely animals.

  • It is being in control of a very large animal – which can be very empowering.

  • It enables children to identify emotions which they find difficult to express.

Activities can include:

  • Grooming, brushing, hoof picking, plaiting tails (the girls love this)

  • Mucking out to make their stables clean (the boys love this)

  • Leading horses (empowering to have a huge animal do what you ask)

  • Feeding or just spending time interacting with the horses.

All the while the Facilitators will be chatting to the children about day-to-day things.

Ultimately, the aim of Equine Therapy is to help the children discover more about themselves, develop new ways of thinking and develop self-esteem and confidence.

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