Cavalier Centre welcomes new Trustee: Kelda Wood, MBE

Cavalier Centre welcomes new Trustee: Kelda Wood, MBE – Britain’s first para rower to cross the Atlantic

Kelda Wood, MBE

Kelda Wood, MBE has joined Shropshire’s Cavalier Centre as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Kelda Wood, MBE is a former GB Para-Canoeist, the first para-rower to solo row over 3,000 nautical miles unsupported across the Atlantic. She’s also Founder of Climbing Out, a charity focused on helping rebuild confidence and self-esteem in people facing life changing injury, illness or trauma.

The Cavalier Centre is a fully accessible state of the art equestrian facility located just outside Much Wenlock, in the beautiful Shropshire countryside. The centre offers inclusive horse-based activities such as riding, carriage driving, vaulting (gymnastics on horseback), hippotherapy (physio on horseback) and horse care, all supported by a wonderful army of volunteers.

Kelda’s passion has always been with horses and her goal was to ride for her country and represent Great Britain at the Olympics. Unfortunately, after a serious leg injury in 2002, Kelda’s hopes of competing at an international level seemed to have disappeared. The leg injury had a huge impact on her life, leaving her no longer able to run or play many of the sports that meant so much to her.

And now she brings that wealth of experience, and love for equestrianism to the Cavalier Centre. Her unique understanding of people, overcoming challenges and using physical activity to boost mental health will be a huge asset to the Centre as it continues to grow and serve more people in Shropshire.

The Cavalier Centre’s programmes are diverse and inclusive. Along with RDA Riding, Carriage Driving and Vaulting, the Centre offers Stable Relationships – an intensive 1:1 Emotional Intelligence Course, STEPS – an eight-week life skills and confidence building programme, as well as a range of bespoke events and activities.

Key to the success of the Cavalier Centre is collaboration and partnership. The appointment of Kelda Wood is an additional way in which the Centre can extend its reach further into the community and partner with a wide variety of different organisations to work with even more participants and empower people with a diverse range of needs. Working in partnership allows the Cavalier Centre team to join people on their learning journey with horses and work with them to achieve their goals and ambitions – wherever they may lead.

Selina Graham, the Cavalier Centre’s Chair of Trustees, said: “It’s the people behind the Cavalier Centre that make it such a success and we’re so excited to have Kelda join us as a Trustee. Her experience and knowledge – both of people and horses – will bring a fresh perspective and focus that will benefit our participants, our volunteers and our team. I believe so strongly in collaboration, and sharing best practice, and really hope that we can learn so much from each other, and better serve all our participants by working together.”

Kelda Wood, MBE, said: “I’ve always loved horses for as long as I remember. My injury meant that my career went in a different direction to the one I was expecting, so I’m thrilled that – years later – I can get involved with the equestrian world once again at the Cavalier Centre.

“I’m hugely passionate about using physical activity and its positive impact on mental health and wellbeing and horses have an amazing ability to meet people where they are, and encourage them to reach their potential. The team and volunteers at the Cavalier Centre are amazing and I’m so happy to play a part in developing the Centre for the future.”

Finding Peace with Ponies

At Home With Horses

On a chilly and sunny Saturday afternoon, a minibus pulls up to the Cavalier Centre in the middle of rural Shropshire and six young kids between the ages of four and ten jump out. They laugh and run around – excited to meet the horses and ponies. Their joy is infectious.

But behind the happiness is a history that makes this laughter special.

Because just over three years ago, these children fled the bombs and war of Aleppo, Syria with their parents, to seek safety in the UK as refugees.

They brought with them the few bits and pieces they could carry and the special things they didn’t want to leave behind. They also brought with them trauma, loss, grief and the unspoken pain of displaced people. And now they find themselves, along with their families, starting over in a new country with a different language, different climate and different culture.

It’s hard enough to picture what that would be like. We see ourselves as parents and adults and imagine how it would feel to leave everything we hold dear – chased out by conflict and strife.

But we don’t often imagine what it would be like to do that as a child.

The children of refugees don’t always understand why they have to leave. They often have to bear the burden of the massive change in their families lives – sometimes being the ones who end up as their family’s translators, because they pick up English more quickly than the older ones. They take on the vicarious trauma of their adult carers and don’t always have the capacity to understand why.

It can be a lonely, bewildering experience, coupled with an ache for what went before.

The good news is that there are people and places where they can just be kids again. Where they can put their past to one side for an hour or two and enjoy simple fun and find comfort. And one of those safe places is with the horses, ponies and volunteers at the Cavalier Centre in Much Wenlock, Shropshire.

For three consecutive Saturday afternoons, this group of children is taking part in At Home With Horses, a unique programme set up to help these little ones gain in confidence, spend time with horses and spread their wings in a beautiful countryside setting.

Often they are nervous on their first visit and apprehensive around the animals. They are on the edges of their comfort zones.

But with time, patience and kindness, the volunteers work with the kids to show them how to care for the ponies. They learn to groom the horses, lead them from their fields and on the last week, take a ride on them.

The journey is a simple one, but can be transformative.

It might not be obvious at first sight, but time spent with the horses can help bring a moment or two of peace. Sometimes you see the difference in a young boy’s face as he finds comfort in the brushing of a horse’s mane. His face will soften slightly and his eyes will rest. He will breathe a little more easily and learn to be in the moment.

And for that moment, he can forget and be a kid again.

Rachel Lambert-Jones, the Cavalier Centre’s Manager, has seen these little moments of transformation many times. She believes that there’s something about being with horses that settle the emotions and allow children – and adults – to free themselves from their thoughts.

“Horses are incredibly emotionally intelligent animals”, she says, “and they somehow know what we need, before we do. Seeing these kids, who can’t easily express how they’re feeling, find joy and happiness with the horses makes our jobs as volunteers and helpers, so rewarding. It’s wonderful to watch the kids being kids again.”

Organised in collaboration with the grassroots charity Shropshire Supports Refugees, the programme has worked with dozens of kids over the past year. The charity’s CEO, Amanda Jones, has been amazed to see the difference it’s made in the lives of the children and their families. She said: “Honestly, I knew the kids would love it, but I didn’t think it would become such an important piece of their lives. They really benefit from the time at the Cavalier Centre, and the horses just seem to know what they need. It’s really incredible.”

Supported by the Tackling Inequalities Fund of Sport England, this pioneering work has become a key part in the activities offered at the Cavalier Centre

Spring Newsletter 2022

Welcome to our Spring Newsletter, looking forward to warmer weather and brighter times!


RDA riding sessions are going strong with our Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon sessions. We are looking forward to Regional Qualifiers in May and Nationals in September.

We are still very keen to resume vaulting at the Centre. We have one coach in training and are looking for another along with volunteers to support the sessions, ideally suited to people with a dance / gymnastics background if you would like to know more about getting involved please do contact us.

Carriage Driving
Is proving hugely popular and we are looking at extending the sessions available. We are having a Carriage Driving open day on 26th March – see events for more information

Hippotherapist, Irma Prinns, is now offering sessions on a Monday afternoon. Please contact her directly if you would like any more information Call: 07402 825904. Email: [email protected]

At Home with Horses
We have been running a fabulous series of 3 week Saturday morning programmes with Shropshire Supports Refugees to provide an introduction to horses and riding for the children of refugees through the Tackling Inequalities fund from Sports England.

We are delighted to welcome Lynette back to run a new programme that will replace the Steps in the Right Direction Programme. STEPS is our new skills and personal development programme which will run Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays for more information contact Lynette via email [email protected]

Dates for your Diary

The Carriage Driving Event on 26th March will be open to disabled and non-disabled potential drives, with the opportunity to have a taster session.
The Volunteer Open Day will be around two hours of shared, social activities with the opportunity to see and experience all the different aspects of RDA Riding. Future days with other disciplines to follow.
A second BHS Equine Table top sale is on 9th of April bringing an opportunity for a bargain or the chance to spring clean. Buyers are free, Sellers cost £10 per car to book a place follow this link

Cavalier Centre branded clothing

Branded jackets, gilets, fleeces and hats are now available to order from DecoStitch in Shrewsbury. Hopefully we will soon have some samples here for sizing and quality. To order email [email protected] or call 01743 462265.

Gifts and Merchandise

We are always looking for ways to increase our fundraising and we have now added gift vouchers and a sponsor a pony package – the perfect present for the person who has everything priced from £5 to £75

  • Sponsor a Pony/Horse package £50
  • Bale of hay £5
  • Himalayan Salt Lick £5
  • Shampoo and Sponge £10
  • Vitamin and Mineral Supplements £25
  • Equine Physio Treatment £40
  • A New Turnout Rug £50
  • A Farrier visit £75

Centre Staff

From left to right

Lisa – Works part time on the yard, in the office and supporting programmes. [email protected]
Sam – Works Mondays and Tuesdays in the office on Admin and Events. [email protected]
Rachel – Is the Centre Manager and Works Sunday – Thursday. [email protected]
Annabel – Is the Yard Manager she works every day except Tuesdays and Saturdays. [email protected]
Lynette – Works Tuesday – Thursday running the new STEPS Programme. [email protected]
Jess – Works on the yard Tuesdays – Saturdays. [email protected]

Farewell to Becky

We are sorry to say goodbye to Becky as she moves on to pastures new, she has been such a huge part of the development of the Centre and will be missed by everyone. Becky’s last day will be Friday 4th March. Wishing her all the very best for the future.

Thank you!

As always we are phenomenally grateful to our awesome band of volunteers and to everyone who continues to support us, we know together we are doing fantastic things.

RDA 2022-2025 Strategy Launch

The RDA have launched their strategy for the next 3 years –


To enrich the lives of disabled people through horses.


We strive to ensure that anyone with a disability can benefit from the unique bond between humans and horses.


To support an extra 10,000 people by 2025.


To find out more click on this link ;



RDA National Championships 2021

Watch the RDA National Championships and look out for our four fabulous Cavalier Centre Riders


Click here – RDA Virtual National Championships – Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA)

Autumn 2021 Newsletter

Autumn Newsletter 2021

Click link to download the PDF and read all our latest news and updates.

Sensory Garden Donation from Westland Horticulture

We had a very generous donation of bird baths, bird boxes and bird feeders from Westland Horticulture for our sensory garden and trail. These will be a fantastic addition to the garden which we plan to start creating in the coming months. There is nothing more relaxing than watching our wild birds and hearing their beautiful calls. We hope this space will be somewhere that our participants and families can go to relax and enjoy. If that’s to read a book, listen to the birds or watch our horses in the field. 

We are also looking to build a sensory trail around our carriage track for our participants to enjoy while riding or driving. These are some images from our friends @questRDA who have a fantastic trail.




We have also had a donation of bug houses from Homes for Bugs.


If you are able to donate anything towards our garden we would be very grateful. We are looking for the following items:

  • Sleepers
  • Benches
  • Trellises
  • Plants (roses, grasses, clematis, small trees etc)
  • Wildflower and lawn seed
  • Topsoil
  • Sensory items (statues, chimes etc)

Or would you like to give a kind donation towards the build of the garden you can do so here.

We look forward to welcoming you to the sensory garden very soon!

Resources hub for participants

To help participants to carry on with RDA at home, RDA National Office have collected some resources in this shared hub here called ‘RDA at Home’:


You will find educational worksheets as well as a range of ‘just for fun’ activity sheets which can be downloaded and printed out. They will be adding to this as the weeks go on

Our first newsletter!

 Cavalier Centre Scoop

 Welcome to our first newsletter!
Each term we’ll bring you up to date with everything that’s been going on at the Centre and future dates for your diary. We hope you enjoy reading it and if you have any ideas about future content please let us know.

What’s new?
Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Centre is currently closed and many of the events we had planned for the coming weeks and months have been postponed. Therefore this newsletter looks a bit different to how we had originally intended! This is a difficult time for all of us so we have been posting activities on our Facebook, Twitter and new Instagram channels. Please keep in touch with us and we really look forward to resuming activities at the Centre when it is safe to do so.

Meet our new Centre Manager
Our new Centre Manager Rachel Lambert-Jones joined us in January and what a three months it has been! Find out more about Rachel at our website.

Competitions at the Centre
Sadly the Regional Qualifiers and RDA National Championships have been cancelled. However, the Cavalier Centre will be hosting competitions for all our participants once it is safe to do so. Watch this space!

Volunteer Update
Congratulations to Sally Austin, one of our long standing volunteers, who has recently qualified to coach with us.  Sally has taken over our Thursday afternoon sessions and will also be starting some new sessions on Sunday afternoons. Many thanks to Sally and all our coaches for giving their time to the centre.

Ideas to keep busy
Take a look at our website for links to some Makaton videos. Makaton is a signing system used to accompany spoken language and is used by many of our participants. We’re also posting some key Makaton signs on our Facebook page.

Now would be a great time to complete the e-learning modules on the MyRDA website. There are modules on safeguarding, disability awareness, autism and equine knowledge.

People and Pony Focus
Perry RDA is nothing without our ponies and people, be it our participants, their parents and carers, our wonderful army of volunteers and our team of staff. In each edition we’ll get to know one person, how they are involved with Perry RDA and of course about their favourite pony! This time we meet Sam Rogers who rides with us every Saturday.

 What do you like about coming to the Cavalier Centre?
I like going to the Cavalier Centre because it is friendly and the lessons are good.

 What have you learned since starting riding?
I have learnt to trot and hold the reins properly.

 Who is your favourite horse and why?
My favourite horse is Theo as he is the horse I mostly ride and trust.

 What are your hopes for the future?
My hope is to be able to ride without help.

 Share Your Pony Pics
We’re all missing the Cavalier Centre horses and ponies so let’s share our favourite pictures of them and make each other smile! Please send your pictures to [email protected]. This is Becky’s favourite photo of Billy.

 Pony Update
All of our horses and ponies are currently enjoying a well-earned rest. Some have stayed at the centre, whilst some have gone to holiday homes. Here’s volunteer Isla checking on Stubbs and Billy who are holidaying in a field close to her house. Finn is also in the same field and, as you can see, is enjoying the relaxation.

 Coaches Corner
Our Yard Manager Annabel has put together some exercises to keep you fit.

Side lunges – 10 on each side
10 squat jumps
Forward lunges – 10 on each side
10 crunches
Skipping – 40 skips and 20 seconds rest, repeat 4 times.

If you’ve got some exercise ideas, send them to us and we’ll share them with everyone.

 Participant Survey
Thank you to all participants and their parents and carers who completed our recent survey. Collecting your feedback is really important in helping us improve and grow. We also love the comments you leave us on our whiteboard.



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Top Tips for Signing

Many of our participants and their carers use signing to communicate with each other and others. You can use signs to help communicate with people who are deaf or people who have communication difficulties. Makaton is used to support spoken language. BSL (British Sign Language) is a full language used by the deaf. The signs used in Makaton are the same as those in BSL.


Even learning a few key signs can aid communication between volunteers, staff and participants.
Its great if you can learn all the signs you need but don’t worry if you can’t.

A few hints for when you’re communicating in sign
 Stand where the person you’re communicating with can easily see you. You don’t
necessarily have to be close. Signing can work well at a distance too
 If there is a light behind you it can be difficult to see what you are saying, so try moving to
one side
 Your hands need to be visible so think about what you are wearing. Black gloves against a
black coat make it much more difficult to see signs
 Try and stand where you can be seen without the rider having to turn to look at you. If they
have to turn to look it will affect their riding.
 Remember if they are holding their reins they will need to let go to sign back. There can be
a lot of stopping and starting in a session using sign. This might feel frustrating but it’s
important to communicate well.

For videos with lots of signs relating to many aspects of RDA life please visit:

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