RDA HQ Tel. 01926 492915

Heron's Ghyll Tel. 0300 201 0036

Registered Charity No. 1073569


At the time of writing there are over 100 driving groups in this country. The aim is to provide the opportunity for disabled people to participate in this sport with great benefits for their health and well being. It is almost impossible to put into words the profound and lasting benefits that this sporting therapy has brought to people.


Herons Ghyll Driving Group was started in 1985 with one elderly pony. At the present time we have 6 ponies, 2 belong to the group and 4 are privately owned and are very kindly loaned to the Group for its use. Without the ponies that are privately owned, and very kindly loaned to the group for its use, we really could not do the job properly.


Our members have to contend with a varying range of disabilities from the physical that originate from such as spinal injuries, paraplegia, polio and cerebral palsy; varying degrees of visual and audio impairment; injuries to the brain resulting from automotive accidents, and strokes which affect both speech and muscle control. One lady member whose disabilities are the result of thalidomide has, on several occasions, swum a distance of one mile in a pool to raise money for the group. So far she has amazingly raised over £4,000.


Our carriages are designed so they can take wheelchairs. There are about three carriage builders in this country that manufacture these for us. They are subject to a vigorous inspection before being passed for use with any R.D.A group. As of course are the ponies who, undergo a long and intense training period, before getting their 'ticket' from a team of specially selected inspectors that are based throughout the country. Similarly, all Carriage Driving Coaches (CDC) who accompany the drivers have to pass this inspection. Safety is a major factor in dealing with the disabled, many of who have to be strapped in as, in the unlikely event of an accident resulting in a pony or vehicle overturning, it would cause terrible problems and severe repercussions.


When driving, the disabled persons take up the reins and drive the pony themselves with the Carriage Driving Coach (CDC) person sitting along side and holding a second set of reins, in case of any emergency. However, during competitions marks are lost if the Carriage Driving Coach (CDC) is seen to take up the reins.


This brings us to the subject of competition. Some disabled people are extremely competitive, just as much, if not more so than their able bodied counterparts. As a group, members at Herons Ghyll have competed throughout the country, even as far as Doncaster and take part in local shows and displays. To date, the results that have been achieved are remarkable.


Currently we have about 16 members and a wonderful band of 31 helpers. Most of them meet up virtually every Thursday during the summer and, many volunteer their services at weekends as well when there is a show or competition to prepare for and attend. We always need volunteers to assist on meeting and show days. The fact is for each horse/pony and carriage, known as a 'turnout', there has to be between five and six people to help everytime a disabled person is loaded or unloaded. As mentioned previously, safety is a priority. You can find a series of photographs that show the loading procedure on the photos page.


Herons Ghyll receive no financial help from the Government what so ever with every single penny having to be obtained from various fund raising events. We are always on the look out for different ideas and volunteers to see the project or event through.


Thank you.