TDRC was established in 1974 on a small yard in Thanet, Kent. (up until 2004 the centre was affiliated with the RDA) This was soon taken over by Nora Setterfield and Rowena Young a few months later due to a threat of the centre closing down. This led to Nora and Rowena having to find another plot of land to restart the charity.
They came across a riding school called Bromstone. This allowed the centre to use the riding school ponies, they continued this set up, unfortunately, the riding school closed down a few years later. So the hunt was on to find another home. They soon found a plot of land in Fairfield. Due to a lack of stables and an influx of riders, a pony bed and breakfast was created.
This is where owners would kindly allow the centre to keep their ponies every weekend, where they would be stabled and fed, in return for riding use. Nora was soon able to cut down on the amount of bed and breakfast ponies due to being donated working ponies that the centre could use.
After a few months, the council decided to sell the land for development, so Nora and Rowena had to, yet again move the centre. They were lucky to have supportive councillors who waited until they were settled in a new home to sell the land.
Nora and Rowena found a quiet plot of land in the grounds of Maurice house (the British Legion) in 1985. This has since become the centres permanent home. The pair had a massive task on their hands to clear the trees and level the ground to make a safe home for the centres ponies. Nora says “anyone who popped their head over the wall to be nosy, got a job. The whole community pulled together to help us get started”. Before long the centre was deemed safe for riding. With six pony-sized stables constructed, a tack room/tea room and a feed room were installed.
The centre then started with only 2 ponies, Rusty and Paddy. So bed and breakfast continued until 2 more centre ponies were bought, Sunny, and Blaze. So bed and breakfast was stopped.
The centres most well known possession is a 34-year-old, tea drinking devil Shetland named Smartie. Bought by the centre at age 4, she would take on a ridden career for Nora’s baby clinic on a Friday morning. Unfortunately, smartie found it more amusing to kick volunteers and watch them run away, than actually be ridden. Her favourite activity was chasing people through fences. And throwing a tantrum if she didn’t get her morning cup of tea. To make matters worse, Smartie was petrified of games so Nora broke Smartie in to drive, and she loved it!
This gave riders who weren’t sure about horse riding the chance to learn a new skill and connect with horses differently. The centre has now had Smartie for 30 years! She lives happily retired in our orchard with lots and lots of treats