Kesteven RiDeAbility is a small friendly RDA group based at The Paddocks Stables in the pretty Lincolnshire village of Hough on the Hill.   Karen Thompson established the group thirty years ago this year and with her group of volunteers provides a range of riding experiences for all ages and levels of disability.   The group has two full time RDA ponies Rio and Fudge as well as the use of other horses in the yard including Murphy, an Irish cob and Betsy a cob cross.

All our riders have varying disabilities with ages ranging from the very young to the retired and beyond but Karen, who was awarded the inaugural RDA Coach of the Year award last year, is very adept at matching horse and rider and helping each to achieve the best that they can.   Karen is an amazing coach and brings out the best in all her riders.

Sessions aimed at our youngest riders help develop literacy and numeracy in a fun way whilst improving core stability and co-ordination. Who said putting bean bags in buckets or throwing rings over cones isn’t fun!   Our Saddle Club helps them to learn about looking after their pony and riders who progress forward in their riding can learn to do dressage. We have a number of children and adults who do this, many of whom have gone on to win rosettes and to qualify for the RDA National Championships held in July each year.

New this year is a programme of equine therapy for elderly disabled adults called The Silver Hour.    Karen was keen to help older disabled members of the community benefit from interaction with horses to reduce stress and anxiety.   This also offered an ideal opportunity for older people to rekindle their love of equines or to experience a connection with a horse for the first time.

By chance, The Silver Hour enabled us to make a wish come true for Babette, who, as a 98th  birthday gift to herself, wanted to get on a horse for maybe the last time. One of Babette’s relatives had organised the visit for her after contacting Karen to find out what Kesteven Rideability might be able to do for her.   Despite her age Babette was full of determination and her confidence was such that we had to try and make her wish come true, nothing else would do!   So it was hat first then a try out on Lloyd, our magnificent mechanical horse, to see how she managed.   A few reminders about sitting position and she soon slipped into rider mode and was happily walking in time with Lloyd’s rhythm.   Why couldn’t she ride again?

We couldn’t see any reason why not so we selected Fudge as the best fit for her and with the aid of our volunteers the rest is history.   Everyone was so thrilled with her achievement. She was in her element! And to top it all off she let us into a secret; she had had a bet with all her friends that she would get on and ride a horse again!  Way to go Babette –you came, saw and conquered!

I’m sure we’ll see Babette again and that she will continue to ride with us for as long as she can.


The little video we posted on our Facebook page was made with Babette’s permission.   We had to have a reminder of her day – and what a day.   The video obviously resonated with people across social media and went viral!   To date it has been seen 45K times, shared nearly 500 times and commented on and liked over 700 times.  What a testament to a remarkable lady.


Kesteven RiDeAbility is all about what you can do and Babette’s ride on Fudge just shows that you are never too old to have a dream, or to achieve it.

Like all RDA groups Kesteven RiDeAbility relies on raising money so that we can run our riding and therapy sessions.   We run events each year to help raise funds and have just held our Fun Dog Show….in the rain, which was a shame after all the lovely weather we’ve had.   But our supporters didn’t care about a bit of wet weather and the day was successful despite this.   We also have Pony Angels who donate regularly to support us.   These supporters are vital to our work and we are always looking for new Angels.

If you are interested in what we do or would like to know more about supporting us please look at our website www.kestevenrda.co.uk for more information.

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