History of Ebor Vale Riding for the Disabled Group.

early RDA Margaret


The Group was established by Margaret Johnson and Susan Dudley-Smith along with Committee Members Mr Freeman, Miss Murray, and Mrs Rook. (Our apologies to the latter 3 persons, as sadly our records do not log their Forenames!) They began the Group with a hefty sum of £9.50 in the Bank!!  Initially, only Horse Riding was offered to Members, and the Group was based at Bolton, near Pocklington.


Carriage driving began in Thorganby (between Escrick and Skipwith) whilst the Horse Riding activities continued to operate from Bolton. One carriage especially adapted for wheelchair users was pulled by Shetland Ponies which belonged to Susan Dudley-Smith.


 During this year riding activities moved to Kemp Welsh Livery Stables on a temporary basis whilst the Carriage Driving continued at Thorganby. the group aquired a new Bennington Super Star trap. The group now had three riding horses which were being used for riding sessions.


1990: A new location was found at Willitoft near Bubwith for the Riding Activities of the Group.


 This year we welcomed children from Riverside School in Goole.  Horse riding became part of the school’s curriculum, and they began to bring a small group of children, this turned out to be a great success.


 This year was to see the Group move to a small yard with stables, this was owned by Mr Frank Hardy. These were located at Port Royal in Holme upon Spalding Moor. This move allowed the group to purchase another horse which took the number of horses to 4.


 This year the group saw another move. Our new home was to be Hardacre Stables which was owned by Elizabeth Martin. Our new location became Shiptonthorpe


 During this year we welcomed Woldhaven Day Centre for adults with learning difficulties. They began by sending 8 riders. Whilst we welcomed Woldhaven, we sadly lost Riverside School, the National School Curriculum was changed which prevented Riverside School from attending any longer. This year also saw us finally make it possible to bring our riding and carriage driving to one venue.


 Well… another move, this time the Group moved temporarily to Red House Lane in Market Weighton, whilst a new permanent home was found. We took some of our riders to the Clwyd RDA center in Wales for a very sucessful holiday.


 With 5 horses/ponies and 1 carriage the Group made a more permanent move and we moved to Glebe Farm in Harswell, this was possible because Angela Payne purchased the farm and gained planning permission for a change of use to Equine premises. The “office” and “tea-room” was located in a caravan on site, this had to be painted a dark green colour in order to comply with Planning Permission regulations!!


 This year saw changes to the property; we built an outside “all weather” wood-chip riding arena and Elvington Plant Hire donated their old prefabricated concrete sectional building to the Group. Sadly, during its erection on site, this was badly damaged however, a new concrete block building was erected to replace it, this consisted of 3 stables, a carriage shed, and a tea-room


Our Group acquired a second carriage, so we could expand our numbers of drivers. We also acquired this carriage just in time for a Royal Visit by National RDA`s Patron, HRH Princess Anne! This amazing event was to celebrate the Group`s 25th Anniversary. Harswell will never see another day like this in its history!


 Founder member, Margaret Johnson sadly passed away during the year. Margaret will never be forgotten for all the hard work and dedication which she gave to our group. They truly “threw away the mold” when they made Margaret and we all know there will never be another like her!!  We now hold anAnnual Event in memory of Margaret Johnson.  This year, like everyone else in the UK, we had to get through the now infamous floods. Thankfully only the fields at Harswell suffered from flooding, but I swear our ponies grew webbed hooves!!


This year saw more changes to the property, new “rubble based” tracks were installed on the farm in Harswell, this was to provide an alternative to riding and carriage driving in the grass and “all weather” outdoor arena`s. Young native broad leaf trees were also planted between the various tracks to enhance the riding/driving experience. Carriage Driving in particular benefited from this new safe environment in which to operate and gave our more ambitious Drivers the chance to go faster!!


 Our “Smile a Mile” fundraising event took place in the July of this year. After nearly 12 months of planning we ambitiously took 2 horses (1 pulling a carriage whilst the other was ridden) and we visited every RDA group in East Yorkshire. This event took 7 days to complete, with members taking their turns to ride or drive. The two horses Cookie and Danny were fantastic, they covered close to 185 miles, and we raised a staggering £6,345 from businesses whose premises were situated along the route. The businesses were prepared to donate up to £50 per mile. Our immense thanks has to go to chief fundraiser Gail Bentley who contacted the various business owners and was rewarded by their generosity.

As a result of her Charitable work for RDA and other charities, Susan became Dame Susan Dudley-Smith in 2010, an Honour which she so richly deserved!


The Pocklington Branch of Sainsburys adopted us as their chosen local charity, and they raised a great total for our Group. Our sincere thanks go to Sainsburys and their fantastic management and staff for all their hard work. This amazing total allowed us to purchase a new horse for our riding and driving.


 In terrible weather conditions, the Market Weighton Young Farmers came to our aid, they spent two days removing the worn out surface of the outdoor “all weather” arena and laying the new “shredded carpet” surface. Big thank you to all of you involved!! With 11 horses/ponies, and 3 carriages (including a 4 wheeled carriage) our Group has come a long way since it`s humble beginnings in 1981. We now have over 40 Volunteer Helpers. (We have never had any paid employees and the Group are proud of this fact.)


 After 16 memorable and happy years at Glebe Farm in Harswell it was time to move on. This is where we say hello to Lesley Dexter at Thornton House Farm Barmby Moor, who has generously and kindly offered the Group a new permanent home. We look forward to enjoying the magnificent facilities including a massive indoor and outdoor arena for many years to come.


 A new decade, and six excellent years at Thornton House Farm using their wonderful facilities.  Along with riding and carriage driving for children and adults, we now offer “Equine Therapy” to veterans of our Armed Services. This includes volunteering, riding, carriage driving and Horse welfare.

Thank you to every rider and carriage driver, and volunteer helpers who have attended our sessions since 1981. We hope you have had as much fun and pleasure from our activities as we have! We are sure that we will have unintentionally forgotten to mention many people in this article on the History of our Group. If you are one of those important people whom we have omitted to mention, then please accept our apologies.

Please read the “THANK YOU” page of our website for more detailed information on those people who support us. We are always immensely grateful to anyone and everyone who has supported and continues to support Ebor Vale RDA.