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NEWS > Careers > In Conversation With...Ro Pudden

In Conversation With...Ro Pudden

Ro Pudden née Hillas, has been a member of the RDA Horse & Pony Welfare Committee and the RDA National Training Committee. She was awarded her MBE in 2012. Let's hear more from Ro.
18 May 2018
Ro at the RDA
Ro at the RDA
RDA Trainer

How did you come to train the GB Paralympic team?
I had been teaching Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) riders with some good results. Our success in Atlanta in 1996 was largely due to the generosity of British riding centres and schools in allowing us to practise on their horses. Diana Mason OBE was our chef d’Equipe and her knowledge was invaluable. We have not been beaten yet, but several countries are catching up.

Congratulations on your MBE!
I was very surprised – I think some friends must have put in a few kind words. I was very honoured to receive it.

What do you enjoy most about your RDA work?
For a short time, my RDA riders can forget that they are disabled. Horses or ponies are great equalisers and I am a firm advocate for the able bodied and disabled riding safely together.

What is Lowlands Farm like?
We are near Warwick with over 20 acres. There is stabling for 15 horses and ponies, an indoor school, an all-weather outdoor arena, a viewing gallery and housing for our mechanical horse. I have been here for over 30 years. One of my Paralympic riders talked me into buying Lowlands. I don’t regret it.

What makes a good RDA horse?
The horse or pony must have a good temperament. Thoroughbreds are not suitable for this type of work. A cob is better able to manage the imbalance that many RDA riders suffer from – although the visually impaired often have quite good balance.

How does riding benefit physical or mental disabilities?
Riding can improve muscle tone and mentally it challenges children to listen to instructions. For a short while, parents can see disabled children being the same as the able-bodied and I cannot think of many sports where this applies.

What does the future hold?
I have had a sometimes hectic life but an interesting one. I have met many brave and fantastic people who have helped make my life worthwhile. Now I can sit back (perhaps) and watch what started from nothing become the RDA’s National Training Centre. 

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