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At Shiresmill we offer Therapeutic Riding and Hippotherapy. Lessons are all under the direction of a trained RDA Coach and take place as listed under 'Session Times'.

Download our Rider Application Form and Guidelines below:
Rider Application Form (PDF)

  • Therapeutic Riding

    Therapeutic Riding

    In Therapeutic Riding the aim is to teach basic riding skills and horsecare, gradually decreasing the level of assistance required; riding is taught but there is also a focus on the specific need of the rider.

    Man has been using the horse for work and pleasure from ancient times.

    There is a very unique relationship between man and horse.  There is an old saying that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of man.

    Horse riding is a real rehabilitation of both the mind and the body.  Physically it helps to improve balance, coordination, muscle control and posture.  In addition, motor planning (getting on and off the horse), decision making, communication, and social skills are all improved in an enjoyable environment.

    The rhythm of the horse as it walks provides a multisensory input to the rider which is hard to replicate through other activities.   

    Some individuals who display challenging behaviour and also some of those on the autistic spectrum find that the horse gives a non judgemental response to their actions which calms encouraging relaxation and thus learning.

    Horse related activities such as grooming, leading and learning how to care for the horse can help to develop self esteem and confidence.

    Most of all being with horses is fun and a place where riders can learn new skills, often through games working as a team or individually, for example learning a dressage test.  There are always certificates to work towards and endeavour awards to encourage progress.

    All the sessions are lead by trained coaches who attend regular updates and assessment of their skills through training sessions with other RDA groups in the area.  They are supported by the team allocated to each horse or pony; usually a leader and sidewalkers as required.  The classes usually have a maximum of 4 or 5 riders.

    Want to Ride?

    For Therapeutic Riding Hippotherapy or Vaulting;

    • Complete and return application form with medical section completed and signed by a medical person who knows the applicant.  Please note that until the application form is completed and returned you will not be added to the waiting list.
    • Read the information attached to the application form carefully.
    • Wait for a taster session.
    • Get in touch if need help (see Contact Us)

    Rider Information

    For Theraputic Riding riders must be a minimum of 5 years of age, and both adults and children can apply.

    Hippotherapy sessions are available for riders from age 2 and a half.

    There is a weight limit of 12 and a half stones (80.64 kg).  This is for the welfare of our horses

    Starting to Ride

    The Pony or Horse

    The pony or horse is specifically selected for the rider according to their height and weight. The rider will be introduced to the pony and helped to mount. Some riders mount the pony from a raised platform or occasionally from a mounting block; whichever method is used the rider will have support from the coach and helpers.

    Waiting List

    We do have a waiting list of riders and the availability of a suitable pony may determine priority. We have a Group Physiotherapist who carries out assessments on all new riders. She will identify what support or special equipment may be required to assist with the ride. 

    Ultimately, the aim is to achieve maximum independence for each rider.

  • Hippotherapy


    Hippotherapy is usually an individual session and the 'rider' often does not wear a hat as this may interfere and influence the movement and balance on the horse. Only a therapist trained and current in membership of the HPC (Health Professional Council) can offer this treatment within an RDA establishment.

    Hippotherapy (from the Greek word hippos meaning horse) is a form of physiotherapy on horseback which uses the movement, warmth and rhythm of the horse to produce responses in a child or adult dependent on their needs. There is no intention to teach riding skills.  The horses movement causes the rider to react in order to maintain posture and balance over a moving base. Each step the horse takes displaces the rider’s centre of gravity, challenging balance and strengthening the core muscles of the trunk. The three dimensional movement created in the sitting rider on a walking horse is very similar to the movements of the normal walking pattern. It is repeated over and over again as the horse walks. Studies have shown improved muscle tone and also an increase in functional abilities off the horse following a course of hippotherapy.

    In hippotherapy we sit sideways, backwards or go on all fours and of course there is a challenge to achieve or assist with the position change.

    All this takes place on a soft sheepskin pad and it is nearly always delivered as an individual session with a trained team of helpers. Best of all it is not physiotherapy or exercise, just fun on horseback! Only trained therapists can offer this treatment.

    For access complete the application form. Following this an assessment will be offered by the physiotherapist.

    Please note due to the numbers wanting to access this service it may be delivered in the future in blocks of 10-12 weeks with the opportunity of returning for further sessions.


  • Vaulting

    We are connected with two vaulting groups; Rainbow Vaulting who meet closeby near Clackmannan and occasionally use our Centre and more recently Equipower who are having sessions weekly whilst they strive to develop a new centre in Stirling.

  • Education Through Horses

    Education Through Horses

    RDA isn't only about riding a horse, it is also a platform for learning in an engaging, supportive, rewarding and fun environment.

    Increasingly RDA activities are being recognised for their educational benefit as curriculum-based subjects can very easily be incorporated into the sessions.  The end result can simply be life changing!  Numeracy and increased vocabulary can be included easily whilst tacking up the pony, laying out the arena or making up the feeds for the next day.


    At Shiresmill we offer;

    • Grade Certificates for horse riding
    • Grade Certificates for horse care.
    • Endeavour Awards
    • Endurance Awards
    • ASDAN
    • An annual sponsored challenge ride
    • The Tracker System which monitors change in 5 key areas over a short period of time.


  • Session Times 2017
    Session Times of our Classes

    Day Times Number of Sessions


    6.30pm – 8.15pm

    21st August - 2nd October



    10.30am – 12.45pm

    22nd August - 21st November

    ** nb 9th October no lessons - Holiday**



    10am – 1.30pm

    Continuous to 25th Oct

    **nb 4th October no lessons - Holidays**



    Morning Sessions

    10.30am – 12.30pm

    24th August - 23rd November

    **nb 11th & 18th October no lessons - October Holidays**

    Evening Sessions

    6.15pm - 7.45pm

    Continuous to 21st September





    10.15am – 1pm

    Continuous to 27th October

    Individual sessions


    10.30am – 12.30pm

    9th September - 25th November

    **nb 14th & 21st October no lessons - October Holidays**





    Download our Rider Application form below:
    Rider Application Form (PDF)

  • Rider Testimonials

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