The Shelley Centre



The Shelley Centre for Theraputic Riding

Our purpose built, self-funding riding centre was opened in 1989, at Shelley near Hadleigh, in the beautiful Brett Valley eight miles from Ipswich in Suffolk (History of The Shelley Centre).  Although an independent Charity (No.1113636), and a Company Limited by Guarantee (No. 5668971), The Shelley Centre is affiliated to The Riding for the Disabled Association (Registered Charity No. 244108) (History of RDA).  Our aim is to provide riding or carriage driving to benefit the health and wellbeing of adults and children with disabilities.

The Centre is run by volunteers including twelve Instructors and two Able Bodied Whips.  From these volunteers a Management Committee of Trustees manages all aspects of the running of the Centre. (The Trustees) Our only employee, our Stable Manager/ Instructor, oversees the running of the stables and is responsible for the care and wellbeing of the horses and ponies.  The Centre holds an Annual General Meeting each year to report on all aspects of The Centre and from this meeting is published The Chairman’s Report. (Chairman’s ReportThe latest edition of the Shelley Yearbook is also available for download in PDF format. (Shelley Yearbook)

The Centre operates five days a week during school term times (Term Dates).  Throughout the year we help around one hundred and thirty five individual riders and drivers. Their ages range from between four and fifty plus, with many varying degrees of physical disabilities, learning and behavioural difficulties.

During the year The Centre plans a program of activities which includes events such as The Shelley Open Day or Shelley Show, Fund Raising in various forms, Training and Information Courses for Helpers as well as Social events to cater for the Riders, Helpers and their families and friends. Among these activities will be Shelley team entries into both Regional and National RDA competitions. This program is published as an (Events Calendar) at the outset of the year with greater detail being provided through outlets such as (Ebony’s Blog) and (Shelley News). More information on the latter two items is given below.

All the riders are referred to The Centre by their General Practitioner, Community Physiotherapist or other Health Professional.  Riders include those suffering from Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Autism, Polio, Arthritis, skeletal deformities, Down’s Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Cancer, accident victims and those with learning difficulties or behavioural problems.

Riding is remedial and therapeutic, as well as being recreational. It not only teaches new skills – for some a life skill.  It requires active involvement and thus improves balance and coordination.

The transmission of the horse’s movement to the rider emulates the walking movement of the human pelvis. Three minutes of riding produces over a thousand random movements in the disabled rider, which tone and strengthen their muscles. Sensory, social and communication skills are also developed. Independence and decision making are encouraged; frequently self discipline and self image are improved and confidence enhanced.

The sense of belonging and achievement derived from contact with the horses and the Group is therapeutic as well as fun. This is an all important aspect for those involved whether Riders, Carers, Parents or Volunteer Helpers.

During 2010 The Shelley Centre celebrated its 20th Anniversary which also coincided with the RDA celebrating its 40th Anniversary. One of our ponies, Strikey, was chosen from the whole of the UK to become the RDA 40th Anniversary Pony. In honour of this award Breyer, makers of equine models, commissioned a model of Strikey for general sale. Sadly, Strikey died in the autumn of 2010 and to celebrate his memory a special page has been created on this Web site which is called “Strikey’s Page” (Strikey’s Page).

There is always something of interest happening at The Centre and to keep us up to-date on the latest you can read about the life and times of our resident, but very unusual, gossip who resides in the Quiet Room and he is called Ebony (Ebony’s Blog). Ebony is unusual in that he is a Mechanical Horse who emulates most of the movement and action of a real horse but remains firmly bolted to the floor. Together with BABs, his mechanical friend, they are both used for therapy where it is not practical or safe to place Riders upon a real horse or will be used for assessing new Riders prior to their being accepted at The Centre. Apart from appearing here, Ebony’s Blog is often published in Community News Magazines serving the local area.

Whilst Ebony is busy ear wigging for gossip, there is much else that Helpers, Riders, Carers, Parents and Friends may wish to know about and this is published on the Web site in the page headed “Shelley News” which includes information on forthcoming events or reports and photographs of past events. (Shelley News)



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