About Broadlands (RDA)
Riding For The Disabled
Set deep in the calming Hampshire countryside in Medstead near Alton, Broadlands enjoys a unique environment for disabled children and adults to experience the benefits of therapeutic riding.
In1955 the Stratford family established the Broadlands Group Riding for the Disabled (RDA).
Since 1974, Suzanne Stratford has been managing this life changing provision with a group of dedicated staff and volunteers, providing over 2,500 rides annually.
As the one of oldest RDA groups, during the last 66 years at Broadlands we have helped over 4,000 adults and children coping from a wide range of disabilities to participate in riding, developing friendships, expanding their learning skills and growing in confidence as individuals.
Broadlands is currently supported by 70+ volunteers including riding Instructors, Duke of Edinburgh Award students, parents and therapists.
There are four key factors that make Broadlands RDA, Medstead unique:
Back in the1955, thanks to pioneering work undertaken by the Stratford family Broadlands, Medstead became one of the original ten RDA groups that was instrumental in founding the national charity Riding For The Disabled Association.
We have eleven wonderful ponies of various sizes and shapes with different paces to suit individual riders.
They are selected for their mild temperament, peaceful attitude and are carefully trained for the job they have to do.
They are calm and responsive so that they will obey the rider however weak the signal helping to provide not just physical therapy but also develop life-affirming relationships.
We have a wonderful team of seventy dedicated and trained volunteers plus six coaches who willingly give their time for every lesson whatever the weather. The majority of our riders each need three helpers, so with a full ride of four ponies we need twelve helpers plus two qualified RDA Coaches.
The stables, covered riding school and grounds offer all the facilities and safety our riders need, whether in their first lesson gently riding around the school and enjoying the scenery and company or having progressed on to using the jumping lane, cross country fences or competition training
Back in 1955, thanks to pioneering work undertaken by the Stratford family Broadlands, Medstead became one of the original ten RDA groups that was instrumental in founding the national charity Riding For The Disabled Association.
Frank and Flora Welch arrived at Broadlands with their daughter Suzanne. It was very overgrown and needed a lot of work to discover what was there. As with many others Flora was inspired by Mme Liz Hartel was a victim of poliomyelitis who could only walk with crutches but who gained an Olympic Silver Medal in Dressage when competing against those with no disability.
Flora started class lessons with a group from Woodlarks. Judy Richmond now McCormack – probably the person with the longest association with Flora here today. She used to help in term time as a teenager.
Ponies: Creamy, Beauty, Beacon Philbert (Nuts), Magpie and Freda.
A big storm blew the roof off the old wooden stables, was it worth continuing to keep ponies? Yes!
The present stables were built.
The Group became one of the original members of the Advisory Council of Riding for the Disabled, the forerunner of the RDA.
The girls from Florence Treloar School, now Treloar College, started riding regularly at Broadlands.
The covered school was built. Suzanne was teaching the riders regularly.
Flora Welch died.
To date many training days have been organised and held for Instructors, Physiotherapists, Teachers and Helpers.
16th May – Princess Anne visited the Group and it rained!
Ponies for the visit some of you will remember:- Sprig, Jo, Duke, Pipit, Dandy, Murphy and Hobby.
Suzanne appointed County Instructor for Hampshire.
Frank Welch died.
21yrs of RDA Silver awards presented by Princess Anne, at a Regional Celebration, to Harry Hands, Margaret Side, Gerry
Walker and Suzanne. Then on another date Pat Chapman received hers.
The Group’s 40th Birthday Party.
The Riding Centre at Broadlands that had been the main financial support of the Group stopped.
Thanks to supporters the Group flourishes.
Celebration of 60 Years of Broadlands and the presentation to the Stratford family of the Birt Spooner cup for exceptional service.