Princess Royal on Countryfile to discuss benefits of horse-riding to disabled

The Princess Royal on Countryfile Credit: BBC/PA

The Princess Royal will speak about the importance of horses and ponies in the lives of people with disabilities during an appearance on BBC’s Countryfile.

Anne is featured in Sunday’s episode of the programme as it will celebrate Riding for the Disabled Association’s (RDA) 50th anniversary, a charity she has been involved with for almost five decades.

The princess, who became the RDA’s patron in 1971 and then its president in 1985, was asked how much attitudes have changed towards disabled people and their abilities by presenter John Craven.

She replied: “It’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can, and that was always something that the RDA was very true to point out.”

Questioned about her association with the RDA, Anne, a former equestrian who represented Britain at Olympic level, said: “It was easy in a way to try and promote just slightly different benefits of horses and ponies, to what I suppose people thought of as a now sports animal rather than a working animal.

“And it was important that people recognised that it had other values which could really change people’s lives, you didn’t have to want to be an Olympic athlete for that to happen.

Sophie Christiansen was inspired to ride through the RDA Credit: PA

“That was really important, just being around them and all the things that went on with them.”

The Countryfile episode is partly filmed at the RDA’s national championships in Gloucestershire where another milestone is recognised – a cake presented to Craven to mark his 30 years with the show.

The episode will also feature one of the RDA’s most famous success stories – Sophie Christiansen, who has won 13 world and Paralympic gold medals.

Christiansen tells presenter Anita Rani how she was inspired to start riding at the age of six, after school trips to her local RDA centre.

Countryfile will be screened on BBC One at 7pm on Sunday.