Job Vacancy RDA Fundraising Co-ordinator, Group Support

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA UK) is seeking a confident, experienced and professional fundraiser who will play an important part in RDA’s growth strategy.  Providing life changing therapy through horses RDA has an ambitious plan to expand its activities and offer even more opportunities to disabled adults and children in the UK. The successful applicant will work with RDA’s network of 500 volunteer led riding and driving groups based in all areas of the country, to support their fundraising activities and increase their annual income. This challenging role involves some travel within the UK and will include the delivery of training workshops and presentations where required.  Based at RDA National Office in Warwick this role is full time.  Apply by emailing an up to date CV along with a covering letter explaining why you would be a good candidate  to satkinson@rda.org.uk  To find out more download the Job description  

Closing date for applications is 13 September 2018

Page Last Updated: August 14, 2018

International Para Dressage rider Diane Greene owes it all to Watershed RDA…..

A fabulous 3 days for me at The RDA National Championships where I was helping the British Dressage Team and supporting some of my riders who were competing – I had such a lovely time meeting some truly inspirational riders and horses and the teams that support them.  I was there to help answer questions riders and trainers had about making the step up into Para Dressage with British Dressage, but it was made even more special for me when I was asked to present the prizes on Sunday.  It was such an honour to make the awards and I really enjoyed meeting the riders and congratulating them, the joy this sport brings is priceless.

I started my own journey back in the saddle with the RDA after I was diagnosed with trauma induced MS 10 years following an accident which saw me suffer a horrific head and facial injury when I was kicked in the face by a horse I was leading.  My riding days ended there until some 17 years later a Consultant suggested I should go back to riding as I was struggling to sit up unaided for long and he thought it would be good for my core strength.  That is when I met the Watershed RDA Team and Beans the wonder pony.  At first I cried each time when I got home, I was nervous when I rode and couldn’t last more than 10 minutes at a time, I had to have 2 walkers either side of me and someone leading Beans, very upsetting for someone who in a previous life had had horses at Grand Prix Dressage level and I was sad that I couldn’t see that I would ever get that back.

The Watershed Team were fantastic with me and we did everything at my pace and with humour and as the months went by I got stronger physically and could sit up unaided again (something I had struggled to do being reliant on sitting in my wheelchair or the sofa) and more confident until I was able to move from the steady neddy that was Beans and start to ride off of the lead rein and onto Connor who was a much sharper pony and a real character.  I started doing some video dressage tests with him and at the end of our first year together we won a silver medal in the RDA online National Championships 2015.  I then started riding with Avon RDA as they had a lovely horse called Whitty a nice little TB horse and we won several competitions together.  The Avon Team looked after me just like Watershed did and it all went so well I decided it was time to get my on horse and I was lucky to find the perfect horse Winnie (Gunstone’s Pride) who we nickname the Unicorn.

Winnie and I joined the British Dressage South West Para Dressage Team in January 2016, were we attend a monthly training session with FEI trainers and Judges, attended the Para Dressage Camp with the team GB coaches and were selected to represent the region at the Inter County Championships, where we were Reserve Champions.

We were then selected to represent England at the Home International held at Vale View, Melton Mowbray.  Winnie and I won all 4 of our tests and our team were 3rd, the highest placing they have ever achieved at this event.  I also won the top prize for the highest scoring rider of the weekend. Something I would repeat a year later and boost the team into 2nd place.

Together we won Gold at the Dressage Anywhere RDA National Championships riding for Watershed RDA, And we were Reserve Champions in the Freestyle Championships at the RDA Nationals 2016

In 2017 I applied for entry onto the BEF Talent Pathway (Team GB training platform) and have been selected, this leads onto the World Class Podium and we hope to be selected onto that level in July this year working towards a Paralympic Team place in Japan 2020 and beyond.

Winnie and I also won the British Dressage Bronze National Championships and the Silvers – hard to believe that we have become double National Champions in our first attempt, and last year we were Reserve Champions in the Gold finals.  Our success through the levels has also meant that we have now been selected to represent Great Britain on three occasions and it is a real honour to wear the Union flag. Becoming an International Para athlete was a dream when I started and to have achieved it in such a short time has been amazing.

Without Watershed RDA I would not have started on this journey with Winnie and I owe them so much.  I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to ride a Grand Prix test but I can still ride a quality horse and compete at the highest level.  In the early days of my diagnosis there were times when I would be at home for weeks at a time without venturing out in my wheelchair, some very dark days.  Now I drive a car independently with hand controls and ride Winnie 3/4 times a week with a competition most weeks too and I am back at Watershed coaching 3 other budding Dressage stars.  I also mentor riders from other parts of the Country and have been asked to help more RDA centres improve their Dressage, so I am really living the dream and proof that it is what you can do that counts.

When you are diagnosed with MS it is a very frightening thing, I left the Neurologists very unsure of what the future would hold.  Because of the head injury my diagnosis took over 10 years and I had to get a bit feisty with my local hospital and transfer myself to the care of Prof Scolding at Southmead, where I at least got the diagnosis I already knew would come, by that point we had missed the relapsing form and moved to progressive so no medication for me.  But, that meant I could move on and fight it (once I had got my head around it that is – which took a year or two).  The Professor has seen a real change in me and when I saw him in July he said he wished he could bottle what I have and give it to his patients as I breeze in on my scooter with such optimism and fun, I told him to get horse riding added to the treatment list but I am not sure how NICE would react to that.  I now really don’t worry about the future, I am back doing the sport I love supported by a new team with Para Coach and Trainer Leonie Brown and her fabulous team at Daneswood Dressage (Team Unicorn) and Winnie of course who really has changed my life.  I would recommend to anyone who has had the same diagnosis to have a trip to your local RDA centre – you may not have Paralympic ambitions like me but it is the best therapy you can get and I know you will love it too – just be prepared to smile and laugh a lot and perhaps shed a few tears of joy!!

Page Last Updated: August 8, 2018

500 competitors, 1600 rosettes, countless tears of joy – and one elephant

RDA National Championships 13-15 July, Hartpury College, Gloucestershire

Over 500 competitors took part in this year’s RDA National Championships, a three-day event for disabled riders and carriage drivers. Featuring dressage, carriage driving, showing, vaulting, showjumping and RDA’s own event, the Countryside Challenge, the Championships is the biggest event of its kind in the world. Highlights of this year’s event included the first endurance ride, the introduction of Dressage Pairs and the first entry by an elephant – thanks to the creative genius of Penniwells RDA in the costume dressage freestyle to music!

The Championships, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year, began as a dressage competition and now boasts seven main disciplines as well as Arts & Crafts, Best Turned Out and Horsecare & Knowledge. Over 100 of RDA’s 500 groups take part, with competitors travelling to Gloucestershire from as far away as Aberdeen and Omagh in hope of returning home as national champions.

“This was my first year as a competitor, although I’m also a volunteer so I could see life from both sides,” said Cass O’Brien, who is a rider with Unicorn Centre and RDA County Chair for North Yorkshire. “As a participant I was treated with a huge amount of respect, with lots of lovely comments from everyone, good luck wishes and well done’s after I’d done my test. I may have only come 7th but I felt as though I’d won the world cup! Not too bad for a worn out 65 year old!”

Another first timer was 13 year old Charlotte Roberts of Ynys Mon RDA. “One of my dreams was to ride at a National event in the same ring as Charlotte Dujardin, truly a dream come true. The Whole event was inspiring and we left really feeling it is what we can do that counts!”

Craig Harrison from The Foresters Horn RDA in Merseyside reflected: “An amazing weekend where I achieved a PB score in the Grade 3 Championship Test followed by a 3rd place in my freestyle. A massive thanks to all the volunteers and staff across the country, without whom this fantastic event wouldn’t be possible. Roll on next year and the 50th anniversary of RDA!”

Championships Chairman Anne Coney said: “This year’s Championships attracted more visitors than ever to witness the fantastic achievements of over 500 riders.  Volunteers from all over the country make this event happen and it is a privilege for me to be the Chairman.  The hot weather did not deter the enthusiasm – and the big smiles from the competitors and their supporters.”

Find all the results here

Get up to speed on the RDA National Championships:

  1. The RDA National Championships is the biggest event of its kind in the world for disabled horse riders and carriage drivers
  2. Paralympians including Sophie Christiansen, Sir Lee Pearson, Natasha Baker, Ricky Balshaw, Deb Criddle and Liz Stone all began their competitive careers at the Championships 
  3. This year over 500 competitors took part, with over 1600 rosettes presented over three days
  4. 102 RDA groups travelled to this year’s event. The furthest travelling from Garioch 490 miles away
  5. In recent years the Championships have welcomed VIP visitors HRH The Princess Royal, Carl Hester and Clare Balding
  6. Since 1994 the Championships has been hosted at Hartpury College. Their support over the weekend makes them one of the charity’s biggest and most loyal donors
  7. The Championships started as a dressage competition and now includes carriage driving, vaulting, showjumping, endurance, showing and countryside challenge
  8. Countryside Challenge is a unique event to RDA. Styled as a ‘walk in the countryside’ competitors are scored on their execution of a range of obstacles including the apple tree, the bridge, the gate, the post box and archway.
  9. The event is run by a team of over 160 volunteers – not counting the teams of volunteers who come to support their riders and drivers.
  10. The Championships has no age restrictions. Competitors as young as four and in their nineties have taken part
Page Last Updated: July 19, 2018

British Dressage launches new ID Championships in partnership with RDA

British Dressage (BD) and RDA have launched the inaugural RDA Intellectual Disability Dressage Championships in association with BD. Set to take place at Solihull Riding Club in the West Midlands on Saturday 1 September, the championships are an important milestone as they mark the first time riders with an Intellectual Disabilty (ID) have competed with the National Governing Body for dressage in the UK, and possibly the first time for any equine sport under the auspices of the International Equestrian Federation.

“This is a huge step forward for riders with an intellectual disability, who have until now had precious few competitive opportunities,” says RDA Chief Executive Ed Bracher. “In launching these Championships, BD is not only helping to drive change within equestrian but also within the broader spectrum of disability sport, where opportunities for ID athletes are still limited. We are delighted to have been able to build on our strong partnership with BD to support this initiative, and wish all participating riders the very best of luck.”

Currently, Para Dressage within BD covers only riders with a physical disability and this new invitational championship will be the first time ID riders have been welcomed to affiliated dressage.

Over 60 statemented riders have been invited by BD and the RDA to take part on 1 September after excelling at the RDA regional qualifiers.  Three levels of test will be on offer and the riders will be judged by experienced RDA judges.

Interim Para Director for British Dressage Julie Frizzell commented; “This is huge news for dressage and further widens the horizons the joy of horses, riding and competing reaches.  Full credit must go to the team at the RDA for helping us bring the Championship to fruition as we couldn’t have done it alone.  We share the same values of inclusion and diversity through sport and were determined to provide ID riders with a new aim and pathway to compete.  Para dressage continues to go from strength to strength and I hope ID dressage will now find a place in our community so riders can achieve their competition aims and fulfil dreams.”

Page Last Updated: July 2, 2018

Your Horse Magazine official media partner

RDA has teamed up with Your Horse Magazine for the 2018 Gala Awards

“We are thrilled to have Your Horse Magazine as the official media partner for the 2018 RDA Gala Awards.  The event is a special evening of celebration for our wonderful participants, volunteers and horses and to have the support of such a well-respected and well-read publication is a real boost, we are looking forward to working with the team in the run up to the dinner in September.”  Says Ed Bracher, Chief Executive, RDA UK.
Guests from the Your Horse Editorial team will be on hand to report on our evening of celebration and to congratulate winners on their outstanding achievements.

 

Page Last Updated: June 28, 2018

New partnership with SOS Group Ltd

We are really pleased to have agreed a new partnership with SOS Group Ltd who are generously supporting the 2018 RDA National Championships.  SOS are providing all the photocopying equipment, printers, stationery and technical support for the competition.  This is a real boost for the event where the reliability of our equipment and easy access to supplies is important and ensures we provide an efficient service to our participants and volunteers. We are really grateful for the support of SOS who are also able to offer charity rates to RDA Groups for new or used equipment, contact Andrew Skelton at RDA@sosgroup-ltd.co.uk or call 0345 230 8080 to find out more.

Page Last Updated: June 28, 2018

Apprenticeship role in accounts at RDA National Office

If you know someone who might be interested, please find all the details here: www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeship/-289371

Page Last Updated: June 12, 2018

RDA National Championships 13-15 July

The RDA National Championships – the biggest event of its kind in the world for disabled horse riders and carriage drivers – returns this July with nine new classes in equestrian vaulting and the first ever Endurance competition. The three-day event, which also features dressage, showjumping and carriage driving, attracts over 400 qualifying competitors from all over the UK.

From the technically demanding fun of the ‘Countryside Challenge’ to top flight dressage, the Championships is a display of skill, horsemanship and determination from competitors of all ages and abilities.

“In response to its growing popularity with RDA groups around the UK, we have added nine new classes to the Vaulting competition this year,” explains event secretary Sarah Hadley. “Since we first included it at the Championships it has proved a big hit with spectators and competitors alike, and this year the competition will take centre stage in the main arena on Saturday afternoon. Visitors can expect an inspiring and gravity-defying display of gymnastic skill, teamwork and horsemanship!”

Endurance will be making its debut at the event, with an introductory competition of up to 2 km. “We would love endurance to become a permanent fixture on the schedule after this year’s event. Testing the horse/rider partnership in a totally different way from our other activities, it will be great to see how our teams approach the challenge and get the most out of their horses and ponies,” says Sarah.

For classified riders, the Championships is an important fixture in the competition calendar, and with talent spotters on the lookout for the next Sophie Christiansen or Lee Pearson, the pressure will most definitely be on. “We pride ourselves on the friendliness of our event, but don’t underestimate the seriousness of the competition,” says Sarah. “There isn’t a competitor here who isn’t trying to do their very best and go home with a red rosette.”

The RDA National Championships takes place from 13-15 July at Hartpury College, Gloucester. Free entry. Visitors welcome.

Page Last Updated: June 8, 2018

Building starts at National Training Centre

RDA has broken ground on the building of its first ever National Training Centre. Due to open in spring 2019, the Centre at Lowlands Farm, Shrewley, will be an important focal point for the charity, which provides therapy through horses to disabled children and adults all over the UK.

The new Centre will provide training for hundreds of volunteers, helping to ensure they have the skills they need to support RDA’s 500 riding and carriage driving groups. “After months of planning, it is fantastic to have reached this milestone,” said Project Chair Patrick Riley. “Getting to this point has been a real team effort and we have received so much support from the local community.”

Once open, the Centre will also provide commercial riding lessons and venue hire opportunities, as well as RDA sessions for disabled clients. “We want the Training Centre to become a thriving and busy hub for a wide range of equestrian activities – and a real asset to the local community.”

Solihull-based firm, Greswolde Construction, is carrying out the work, which involves the renovation of existing equestrian facilities on site and the creation of a new building with office space and training rooms. “We are used to building in busy live environments, but they tend to involve humans. Horses are a first for us,” says Greswolde Director, and project leader, Chris Harrison. “We are working very closely with the RDA team on site to ensure everything goes smoothly and that their work isn’t disrupted.”

Despite having started work on site, fundraising continues for the project, which is attracting donations from local businesses and individuals keen to show their support for the life-changing work carried out by RDA. “We have been delighted by the response to our appeal,” said Patrick. “RDA has been changing lives through horses for almost 50 years and donating to this project is a great way to recognise this remarkable achievement.”

To register your interest in the project, to donate money or to offer equipment or expertise, please contact Sal Atkinson at RDA UK on 01926 405975 or email satkinson@rda.org.uk.

Page Last Updated: June 5, 2018

Volunteer opportunity: Could you help to raise awareness of RDA and its work in West & Central Scotland?

We have two volunteer roles available to help raise awareness of RDA. Please take a moment to read the descriptions below and see if you could give your support.

Regional Publicity Officer

RDA is looking for a volunteer for West & Central Scotland Region to publicise the work of RDA and its member groups to the public through online, print and social media.  The role would suit someone with communications and PR experience who is looking to use their skills for the benefit of others.

Event co-ordinator for the RDA stand at Blair Hose Trials.

RDA has been supported by Blair Horse Trials for many years, and we benefit from a great position at the event, where we sell a range of merchandise, including RDA branded items and RDA Christmas cards.  In addition, we take the opportunity to publicise the work of the RDA and particularly the activities of the groups within West & Central Scotland.

We are looking for a volunteer to be in charge of this project, including liaison with Blair Horse Trials, organising the stock and information displays plus other additional events or occasions.

For more information on either of these exciting and rewarding roles please contact Gillie Drapper, Regional Publicity Officer, West & Central Region Scotland  Mobile: 077481 83239 or email: drapper@kilewnan.org.uk

Page Last Updated: April 24, 2018