Life-changing opportunities for children with special needs

by The Horse Rangers Association (Hampton Court)

About the project


Tipping Point £300
Tack and Equipment £1,450
Final Furlong £5,400
tipping point
In-kind donations range from drinks to office supplies. We even accept homemade cakes. See what else we need!
tipping point
25 hrs
In-kind donations range from drinks to office supplies. We even accept homemade cakes. See what else we need!

More about the project

What is the social/environmental problem/issue that this project will address?
For many children and young people with disabilities, taking part in a fun, physical, outdoor activity is simply not an option, due to physical problems or the fact that a huge level of support is required to make it safe. Even if a commercial riding school were able to offer a safe opportunity, the cost of riding lessons is prohibitively expensive for most families. The problem we address is a simple case of quality of life – we believe children and young people with disabilities, regardless of financial background, should have access to the same opportunities for enjoyment, exercise and activity as those without disabilities.
Can you give us some statistics on this problem?
Our waiting list of 60 names is a good indication of just how much this work is needed, and many of our riders are referred to us by doctors and physiotherapists. We work with three local special needs schools, and they have told us that they simply wouldn't be able to find other opportunities like this locally, with the level of volunteer support which would be required.
What is your solution?
Because we have the support of an incredible team of volunteers, we are able to offer nearly 60 opportunities a week for children to ride and be around horses. It provides a fun, outdoor, physical activity, but being around horses is also incredibly beneficial for a wide range of disabilities. The connection that an animal can make with a child with autism is now well-recognised, and indeed we see this happen on a weekly basis. For those with physical problems it provides exercise and therapy, and in an environment which is so much more enjoyable and engaging than a hospital or clinic. The result we have found is that children are learning, growing and benefiting, without even noticing because they are having so much fun!
How will you deliver this?
Our work relies on over 100 dedicated volunteers, who run all the sessions, through the heat of summer and the snows of winter. This includes the instructors who teach the classes, who take on a huge level of commitment and training for this volunteer role. As a member group of the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association), we benefit from training and the experience of a nationwide support network. We currently have a team of 9 horses who can do this work, but we need to increase this number if we are to be able to continue to grow the opportunities we can offer.

Get involved

Here are some great ways to get involved with the project and help out. If you have...
  • 2 minutes
    Love our project? Like us!! Go to our Facebook page and read all our latest news, then like like like!
  • 5 minutes
    Shout about it! Tell your friends, tell your neighbours, tell your granny and her cat! We are so proud of what our riders with special needs can achieve that we want the whole world to know.
  • 15 minutes
    Send a link to our project to three friends or colleagues who you think will care about the work we are doing. Write them a short note telling them why you are supporting us and ask if they would back us or spread the word to three more people.
  • 30 minutes
    Get a few people together to back us. Does your yoga class need a project? Maybe your friends down at the pub would like to hear about it? Get a few people together and if you all put in a small amount you’ll make a big difference to our work.
  • A few hours
    Write an article about why this project inspires you and send it to your local newspaper, put it on your blog, hand out flyers on street corners, or whatever you can think of! Maybe you have personal experience of an animal helping you through something when people couldn’t. Don’t forget to tell everyone how much of a difference this project will make to the children and young people we work with.
  • Regular time commitment
    Call up your local RDA group and get involved! There are all kinds of opportunities to help out, up and down the country and all groups like ours rely on volunteers with many different skills to be able to operate. Find your nearest group at

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Boleyn 14 December 2012 - 16:46


Anna Horton 14 December 2012 - 16:42

Hip hip hooray!!! We've got a horse! Thanks so much to Lucy Durrant, who has helped us to hit that final target. We've now got enough money to start shopping for a new horse or pony. Any more money we raise will go towards the tack and equipment it will need to start work, so there's still time for anyone who wants to support us. THANK YOU to everyone who has helped us get this far!!

Anna Horton 07 December 2012 - 16:51

WHOOP WHOOP!!! Thanks to the amazing Drapers' Company Charity, the fundraising efforts of one of our volunteers, and an anonymous windfall donation, we're now nearly at our next target!! Thanks so much to Andy, Liz and Anon for your help to get us this far - come on everyone, one last push!

Anna Horton 27 November 2012 - 11:31

A massive Thank you to all our amazing RDA volunteers who organised the Great Horse Rangers Bake Off to raise over £360 for our new horse! We're now well on our way to our second milestone and we've just agreed to extend the campaign until the end of the year - fingers on buzzers, folks!

Anna Horton 08 October 2012 - 14:55

WOWZA!! We've reached our first milestone!! Thanks so much, everyone, for your help and support. This means we've now got enough money to give a potential horse or pony a full MOT before purchase - this is likely to save megabucks in the long run, as buying a horse with hidden health problems would mean up to 25 years of costly vet bills and big insurance premiums. THANK YOU!!!

Anna Horton 02 October 2012 - 11:22

Hi folks, a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has supported us so far - we're well on the way to our first milestone! One of our current RDA horses has started a blog to keep you all up to date with the project - have a look on our facebook page. [Editors note: link removed. links to other sites not allowed by commentators]

Anna Horton 28 September 2012 - 12:11

Here are Edward and Nancy, our amazing RDA horses, on the day they retired after 19 years of work to spend the rest of their days roaming the lovely hills of the Horse Trust's base at Speen Farm!/media/set/?set=a.471089529587623.118822.121455187884394&type=3

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About the organisation

Vision and mission

The Horse Rangers Association seeks to provide a healthy and fulfilling opportunity for young people, regardless of background and ability, to develop character, responsibility and a concern for animals, the world we live in and other people, in a safe and enjoyable environment. Our vision is to be recognised within the local community as providing the highest standard of personal development for young people.

Geographical coverage

Within local community (including local council)

Our track record

Horse Rangers has been working with children and young people for nearly 60 years, and this has included people with special needs for over 40 years. The organisation has grown from one horse in a field to the 29 horses we have today and 400 children, young people and those with special needs who attend each week. Over the past few years, we have been able to expand our work with disadvantaged children and young people, providing respite days for young carers and growing our opportunities for children with special needs.

Who do we help?

Horse Rangers is open to all children and young people, regardless of background or ability. We operate a waiting list for places to ensure fairness. Members pay a voluntary subscription each month, but we offer assisted places to those from low-income backgrounds. Horse Rangers is open every day of the year (well the horses and ponies have to be fed and watered, even if it is Christmas Day!), so for those with a difficult home life, we provide a sanctuary which is open at all times.

How do we deliver this?

Horse Rangers promotes the personal development of children and young people by teaching them to ride and look after horses and ponies. Apart from the 9 classes each week for those with special needs, our mainstream programmes run on evenings and weekends throughout the year. Over 340 children and young people attend each week throughout the year, spending alternate weeks learning to ride and learning horse care. The aim is that through this activity they will learn teamwork, responsibility, leadership and resilience, on top of all the skills they gain. All of Horse Rangers' programmes are delivered by over 240 dedicated volunteers, many of whom have also grown up with us, and who provide a caring environment and positive role models.

Awards And Recognitions

Horse Rangers is a registered riding school with the British Horse Society and our local Council, both of which conduct inspections annually. We are a member group of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). In 2011, HRA was awarded “Highly Commended” in the prestigious Charity Awards.