Tea with the Ponies!

Hi all.
My name is Jan Penny and I am new to this group. I joined because I am a volunteer with Riding for the Disabled at the Abingdon group based in Southmoor, Oxon.

We are developing a new experience, Tea with the Ponies, where non riding clients have the opportunity to come and spend an hour or so visiting the stables and interacting with some ponies either just by looking or petting or even grooming. We then offer some tea and cake!

The sessions are aimed at people with physical and/or learning disabilities/dementia.
Because it is a non riding experience it is ideal for all and can be a heart-warming and memorable time to come and be with our ponies because they seem to instinctively know how we are feeling and give back trust and warmth. We gain a rush of joy and positive feelings and wonderful new memories are made and old memories triggered. There is a lot of evidence of the therapeutic benefits of equestrian interaction.

The sessions are now running on the last Friday of each month 11.00am - 12.00pm beginning 29th March. We charge £7.50 per client and have to ask for at least one friend/family member/supporter per client. If those dates do not work for you then contact us and we may be able to do some other time.

Our Christmas 2023 tea-party was with an elderly gent and his family. Afterwards his daughter wrote:
“My parents and I had such a lovely and memorable time. Daddy still remembers his special time with the horses, which is quite remarkable. The horses were amazing and seemed to have a 7 sense that Daddy is ‘special’. They didn’t react at all to his slightly loud voice or big gestures. One horse [George] actually leant into Daddy for a hug. Thank you to your amazing charity.”

If you think this might be an activity you are injterested in as a group or an individual please either contact me here or contact Janine Elton who is the main coach jselton@btinternet.com or 07951745063.


Hi Jan,
Myself and my daughter would LOVE to attend one of your tea with the ponies days. My daughter is obsessed with horses, although she hasn’t had much actual experience. This would be the perfect opportunity for her to see the reality vs the dream! She has had some basic interaction, stroking, feeding etc but not much more. I should let you know that she does have epilepsy, which has worried me asher mum, although the Epilepsy Society has been enouraging, especially as she wouldn’t be on her own with them.
A bit about Misti, she has just turned 18, is struggling to access school and so has yet to find a peer group and spending most of her time at home bored. She is DESPERATE to find some friends of a similar age. She has realised that most young adults aren’t 'followed about by their mum everywhere, yet we are struggling to find where the young adults within oxford/Oxfordshire are. She finds talking virtually 'weird and is unable to read or write fluently so misunderstands text conversations. She also doesn’t understand underlying meanings, so online groups don’t really work. Interacting with horses and their special energy could be exactly what she needs. Thanks, Karen

Dear Karen.

Thank you for sharing your daughter’s situation. I understand from personal experience how difficult it can be to help your young person integrate and reach their potential.
RDA has undergone a few difficult changes in the last couple of months and, sadly, we have had to press pause on the Tea with the Ponies sessions due to a lack of available coaches to run the event. The original coach, Janine has left us and as a normal volunteer I do not have the requisite training to be able to run the events by myself. This does not mean we will not pick up again in the future it is just difficult at the moment.

However, my advice is to send a direct email to RDA. Explain your circumstances and see if there is a possibility that you could come along, even just for a visit. You can mention my name and the original hope of accessing Tea with the Ponies. If your daughter is interested in riding maybe she could be placed on the waiting list if that was something you wanted for her?


I do hope we can sort something out for you.

Best regards