Congratulations – RDA National 2022 results

We’d hoped to share some photos of our riders at the RDA National Championships… but haven’t found them easy to get hold of. However, we do want to celebrate our riders great result.

Alison Moore and Star came 2nd in show jumping (level 3)

Brad Wale with Theo came 3rd in Dressage Freestyle (grade 1) walk and trot and also
5th in Dressage (grade 6) walk and trot.

Georgia Halliwell-Paget and Heston came 5th in Walk and Trot Dressage (grade 1-6) as well as 5th in the Countryside Challenge for Independent Riders!

Many, many congratulations to them all – and we’ll post photos as soon as we get them!

Can you put the fun into fundraising?

Like any charity, the Cavalier Centre depends on the support of individuals, companies, foundations and families to keep it going. Along with our volunteers who take part in all the horse and pony-related activity, we have people who do maintenance, groundskeeping and more.

Right now, we’re looking for fun and enthusiastic people who would be willing to work on fundraising and profile-building events and activities. These would include things like creating fun social events – from cake baking to concerts and just about everything in between!

Other things to do would include championing the Centre at local events and shows, dropping off and collecting donation tins, as well as seeking support from local businesses for raffles, prizes and so on.

We’d also love it if you’d be able to support us with events – whether that’s attending to help out, or getting creative in support of the centre, for example, making and selling crafts, growing plants, arranging sponsored walks, dog shows, or even jumping out of a plane for money!

Whatever your skills or experience, if you would like to join a fun events and fundraising team, we’d love to hear from you. Just contact Rachel, the centre manager by email ([email protected])

Water, water everywhere!

To reduce our impact on the planet and make better use of the resources we have on site we plan to use water from the land to feed the field troughs. Water is currently collected from French drains in the fields and piped away. Our plan is to pump the collected water to the troughs and rely only on mains water if our own supply runs dry.  

This work involves digging trenches and laying pipework which we hope to have completed by the end of the summer. We’re always looking for ways to be more environmentally friendly.

We’re Community Allies of Much Wenlock’s Plastic Free Communities campaign which is organised by Surfers Against Sewage and a Refill site where water bottles can be filled for free. We’ve also worked with our friends at Shrewsbury Cup who sourced reusable plastic cups to replace single use disposable cups used for events etc.


New small barn breaking ground



We’re really thrilled that, after all the hard work securing funding, work has begun on our new building project!

We’re creating a small barn, attached to the main arena, for groundwork and one-to-one / small group activities, along with a new carriage and tractor storage space. Once completed, the existing carriage room will become the tack room. Now the work is underway, we hope to be finished by the end of the summer. Unfortunately, there will be some disruption, but we will do our very best to keep it to a minimum.

We’ll keep you updated on progress via email, our social media accounts and the website.

Taking STEPS along the way


Photographs from the first STEPS Celebration and Coffee Morning

“I’ve started to get my confidence back and realise that people do like me and I can get over my fears.” Those are the words of James, a participant in the STEPS programme at the Cavalier Centre.

And he’s not alone in finding STEPS transformative. His fellow participant Sarah adds: “I’m currently four and a half months sober (the longest I’ve ever managed) and the STEPS programme has been a huge part of making my journey bearable.”

These are the unprompted testimonials from two of the latest cohort of participants in the newly launched STEPS programme. Funded by the National Lottery, this transformative eight-week course, uses horses and ponies, along with classroom-based activities, to build confidence and life skills in those who are wanting to get back on their feet after some kind of setback.

Lynette Fryer, the programme’s coordinator, works with the people on the course to explore areas around self-awareness, equine behaviours, personal wellbeing and horse care. And alongside the classroom learning (and greatly loved by the people taking part) is the work they do with the horses at the Centre. They learn to lead horses and ponies, to groom them, and tack them up ready for riding.

This all leads to a final celebration event when they can have a professional riding lesson if they want. The smiles on that last day are electrifying and contagious. And the sense of achievement they feel is profound.

Lynette says: “It’s amazing to watch the people taking part in STEPS learn and grow over their time here. When they first arrive, they are often nervous and a bit withdrawn. But gradually they learn to trust and begin to realise they have lots of offer and can gain new skills, and it’s then that their confidence grows.”

The STEPS programme grew out of another Cavalier Centre initiative that worked with people who had been out of work for an extended period of time. It was developed to help people’s general wellbeing, as well as their confidence. Experience has shown that working with horses in this structured way helps with mental health and personal development, builds calmness and self-awareness, develops resilience and self-care along with reducing anxiety and stress.

“Everyone who’s involved in delivering the STEPS programme is humbled by the participants’ feedback. We know there is something about working with horses that’s hard to describe,” says Lynette.

“There’s something intangible that happens when humans and horses meet. There’s a mutual understanding that’s unspoken, but often can help someone understand that they’re valuable and have something to give. Horses seem to bring out the confidence and humanity in someone who may feel very vulnerable.”

The programme takes eight-weeks to complete and comprises 2.5 hours sessions and is funded by the National Lottery’s Big Community Fund. To find out more, drop Lynette an email at [email protected]

We’ve changed the names of the participants to protect their identity.

Volunteers Week: Community, comradeship and calm

by Richard, one of our volunteers.

After a while, you get used to things. Almost take them for granted. It’s not that you don’t appreciate them, it’s more that they become part and parcel of your everyday life.

For example, I don’t have quite the same level of surprise at rounding the corner on the lane and finding a beautiful purpose-built arena and equestrian facility. And I’m not quite as apprehensive as I was the first time I came to volunteer. And over time, I’ve realised that the group of volunteers that I worked with on my first day, are actually a close-knit community that I now belong to.

Truth be told, these small changes, taken on their own, don’t really mean much. But cumulatively, they are the reasons why the Cavalier Centre has become a central part of my life, and the place where I’ve found community, comradeship and calm.

A friend told me about the Centre after I moved to Shropshire, having returned from living in Canada for 10 years. Because I work from home, I wanted to find a place to meet people, as well as doing something, for want of a better word, “worthwhile.” So, I applied, gave my two references and had my volunteer induction. And then, in what’s become rather typical for me, I jumped in with both feet.

I haven’t regretted it.

Having started by volunteering on a Tuesday afternoon, which involved getting the horses and ponies ready for the RDA sessions, I also got trained on how to lead a horse and rider, so have been doing that too. I’ve got to know the team, the coaches, the other volunteers and the equine team members. And because I have a background in marketing and communications, I’ve also helped out with the website, social media and graphic design.

It’s been inspiring to watch the participants in action. The riders overcome all kinds of obstacles to enjoy their time with the horses. And the incredible programs like STEPS or At Home With Horses are amazing to see in action. They are truly life-changing in what they do.

I’m not writing all this to brag. Far from it. It’s really just to put into words how volunteering at the Centre has been a fulfilling experience. It’s humbling to watch how the horses and humans interact.

And how they bring people together in a wider community.

So if you’re wondering whether to volunteer, I’d say: “go for it!” You will learn and do more than you thought possible. You’ll meet all kinds of people with all kinds of stories. You’ll be supported and trained and kept safe.

And, most of all, you’ll be appreciated, valued and loved.


Welcoming our new Volunteer & Participant Coordinator

We’re very happy that Jane Johnson has joined us as our new Volunteer and Participant Coordinator.

Jane started riding at four years old and volunteered at a local riding stable as a teenager and she’s very much enjoying being around horses again after a gap of several years.

She’s a qualified secondary school geography teacher and has two decades in the education sector: 10 years working for the Field Studies Council teaching geography fieldwork and 10 years in schools as a geography teacher. Directly before joining the Cavalier Centre she spent a year and a half as a civil servant within the Department for Work and Pensions.

Jane says: “I’m really looking forward to getting to know all the great people at the Cavalier Centre – both volunteers and participants, as well as the horses and ponies. It’s such a big change from being in a government office to working in a beautiful rural setting and a real privilege to be involved in the work of the Centre.

Welcome Jane – we’re really happy you’re here!

Success at the RDA Regionals, May 2022

At 4:00am on Sunday morning, as the mist had barely risen over the fields at the Cavalier Centre, the team were springing into action to get the horses loaded in the trucks for their journey to Warwickshire and the RDA Regional Championships.

Sion, Star, Theo and Mac were the equine stars of the show, and they were ably supported by a wonderful team of volunteers (who also didn’t mind the early start).

After an incident-free journey, and plenty of coffee, everyone arrived safely and preparations began. Thanks to the great work of Jess and the team, the horses had been washed, brushed and braided and looked like superstars as they, and their riders, began the competition.

First up was dressage, and we were thrilled to watch our competitors do exceptionally well. Each of them showed off their skills and determination and all they had learned over the previous weeks in their lessons and practice at the Centre. The hard work certainly paid off as two of the riders qualified for the Nationals.

Next up was the ever-popular Countryside Challenge, and again our riders rose to the occasion. Some of them had never ridden in a competition before – and it was a first for Mac too. The results were very strong from all of our riders and they earned lots of rosettes too. The full results are at the bottom of this page.

And lastly, there was the showjumping  where we also saw great success!

At 2:00pm, hot, smiling and happy, our participants, coaches, team and volunteers got to celebrate with the prize-giving. Each time a Cavalier Centre rider’s name was called, there was lots of applause and cheering. We had so to celebrate!

Thank you to all our riders for taking part – Brad Wale, Alison Moore, Lilia Toole, Georgia Halliwell-Paget, Florence Giles, Olivia Taylor, Manny Best, Robert Storer, Di Field and Jacqueline Doughton. Congratulations to you all!

And, of course, a huge thank you to our team of coaches, staff and volunteers – Annabel, Louisa, Lisa, Zara, Di, Sally, Jane, Marion, and Richard

You can read Annabel’s personal reflections on the day below this picture as well as see the results and a full picture gallery.

A personal reflection from Annabel


Sitting down after a very busy weekend I am a very proud and happy coach. Friday and Saturday involved some extra training sessions and the preparation of the horses and transport for the big day on Sunday.

Sunday was an early start, I arrived at the Centre at 4.00am to get the horses in and plaited before we all headed off to Lowlands Equestrian Centre at 6.30am. With the aid of an excellent team of staff and volunteers we arrived and set up camp and got all the horses cleaned and warmed-up for the days competition. The team worked so hard to ensure that all the ponies looked sparkling and were in the right place at the right time, all the participants were a delight to be around, showing great patience when some classes ran behind and a fabulous attitude to competition as a whole, following instructions and listening to the coaches.

The ponies were impeccable, the hours Jess spent on the Saturday washing and polishing really showed, and the turn out of horses and riders was praised by the organiser of the show. They also did not put a hoof out of place all day, with Sion and Mac stepping in last minute to allow Georgia and Florence to compete as Heston gave himself the weekend off.

I am so very proud to be part of The Cavalier Centre Team.

Lowlands Farm, Warwick




  • Brad Wale and Theo– 2nd and qualified Grade 1-6 Walk & Trot
  • Lilia Toole and Star – 1st and qualified – Grade 7 Walk and Trot
  • Georgia Halliwell-Paget and Sion – 1st and qualified Grade 1-6 Walk & Trot
  • Florence Giles and Mac – 1st and qualified Intro to Dressag
  • Di Field and Sion – 2nd and qualified Grade 7 Walk and Trot Dressagee led walk only
  • Olivia Taylor and Star – 1st Grade 1-6 walk only dressage
  • Jaqueline Doughton and Sion – 1st and Qualified Grade 1 Dressage

Countryside Challenge


  • Georgia Halliwell-Paget and Sion – 2nd and qualified 
  • Florence Giles and Mac – 2nd and qualified
  • Robert Storer and Mac – 3rd



  • Alison Moore and Star – 1st and Qualified

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

Sign Up To Our Newsletter
Join the Cavalier Centre grapevine and be the first to hear about news and events