About our history

Our founder, Major Allhusen, riding Lochinvar in the 1976 Olympic games
HRH visits our group in 1971
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The Norwich & District Group was founded in 1968 before Riding for the Disabled was officially formed and when only 55 groups existed in the U.K.

We are very proud that the first group visited by HRH The Princess Anne was ours, shortly after becoming Patron of the Riding for the Disabled Association in 1971. In 2018, our group celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The group was set up by Major Derek Allhusen CVO (9 January 1914 – 24 April 2000) and his wife Claudia. Major Allhusen was an Olympian who won  team gold and individual silver medals at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico.  The group's purpose was to give therapeutic riding to the disabled children of Clare School in Norwich.

At that time the medical profession were sceptical of encouraging this idea to develop, in spite of the backing of many orthopaedic surgeons. They tended to regard it as something of a gimmick which would put riders at too much risk.

However, in May 1968, largely thanks to the efforts of Dr. Irene Green, who was the District Medical Officer of Health for Norfolk, permission was finally given for four Clare School pupils to begin weekly sessions at Claxton Manor, the Allhusen's home south east of Norwich.

Derek and Claudia Allhusen were the driving force and mainstay of our group for decades. Derek was Chairman of the Group until 1993, and remained President until his death in April 2000. Claudia succeeded him as President for the next five years until ill health necessitated her retirement. Through all those years the Group benefited greatly from Derek and Claudia’s enthusiasm, tireless support and successful fund raising.

In 2000, the Group introduced a second riding session to enable us to take children referred to us independently. In June 2007, Clare School regretfully informed us they were no longer able to bring their pupils to ride, mainly due to staffing problems. 

We are very fortunate to have an enthusiastic and highly qualified Chartered Physiotherapist in Therapeutic Riding (CPTRH)  who practises hippotherapy with a few of our younger physically disabled children.  Hippotherapy utilises the normal gait of the horse to encourage sensory and physical development and function in children and adults with a wide range of disabilities. 

In September 2017, after 18 years, we moved from Redhall Livery Stables to Weston Equestrian centre



Charity No. 1074195