Candy (2) being riden by Carys Ayling, H


We are a small, independent, local charity set up sixty years ago by a far-sighted woman called Lady Miriam Godber.  We work out of our own premises in the village of Willington in Bedfordshire and have our own ponies and indoor and outdoor riding schools.  We are completely volunteer led.

We use our ponies as therapy for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities.  Sport is very difficult to access if you are disabled.  We primarily work with children from Special Schools in the area but we have a few adult riders too.


The use of ponies is not just a fun activity; the rider receives physiotherapy in a subtle way.  The movement and gait of the pony stimulates the rider`s muscles and joints are able to relax.  In time balance improves as well as posture and walking ability.  As a result, riders are better able to cope with the tasks of daily living – whether it be sitting more upright in their wheelchair, or sitting at a desk doing homework, joining in a family meal or walking home from school


Read on to learn how riding has helped three participants.

BDHRA 60s 9
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BDHRA 80s 1
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BDHRA 60s 1
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Case Studies

An adult rider in her thirties.

13 years ago, when I was 19, I fell down the stairs, I simply slipped and as a result I now have a condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy . I am not able to walk at all, I am confined to a wheelchair. Before my accident I was a professional sailor, I sailed around the world at 18, my job was delivering boats, charters , I used to race on large boats. My life now is very, very different. For ten years after my accident I researched different things that might help me. I used to ride as a child and met someone with a connection to the BDHRA and went along to see if it would help. Going to the BDHRA has had a very real impact on the quality of my life. My left leg was completely straight before I could not bend it at all. In fact, when I first got on a horse my foot would be up round the horses head. Gradually with time, and the heat of the horse I am able to relax it a little and the knee bends slightly. When I am riding it is the only time I am able to be in a vertical position and this has helped me enormously. In fact, recently I went to see my consultant and he said “wow, what have you been doing, whatever it is its really working”. Ideally, I should like to go more than once a week. It’s not just the physical improvement it’s the fact that it gets me out of the house and enables me to meet people socially too.

A person with cerebral palsy

Zoe was referred to us by her special school, Ridgeway, when she was a child she is now 24, she has cerebral palsy. When she left school she continued to come each week because riding helps with her balance. She cannot walk, she is confined to a wheelchair but riding helps with her posture and while the BDHRA is able to take her, she will continue to come. Going riding each week has a positive effect on her outlook, gives her something to look forward to and makes quite a difference to her life not only for the physical benefits but also because she is able to mix with people in a different environment.

Liz from Stagenhoe

Liz lives in a Sue Ryder Home in Stagenhoe, Bedfordshire she has Huntingdons Chorea which causes abnormal involuntary movements. Liz has been coming riding for quite a few years.


Liz is able to walk but cannot live independently. Liz enjoys going riding once a week because it gets her out of the Sue Ryder Home , enables her to meet people and feel some independence. Physically it is helping her to cope with the symptoms that come with Huntingdons chorea.