Job opportunity: Centre Manager Cavalier Centre, Shropshire

An exciting opportunity has been created at the newly built £1.3m Cavalier Centre, future home of Perry Riding for the Disabled. Based in the heart of Shropshire, close to the historic town of Much Wenlock, The Cavalier Centre is looking to recruit a commercially minded Centre Manager who will take responsibility for running this unique centre and developing and shaping its exciting future.

The Trustees are planning to take the turnover of this centre from £50k to £500k
in 3 – 5 years.

The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate a solid knowledge of business management, enjoy a flexible and versatile environment working with a wide range of ages, backgrounds and abilities and have a genuine interest in people from a variety of backgrounds Preferable experience will include volunteering, admin and marketing. Personal attributes will include the desire and energy to move the business forward, good leadership skills, confident in public speaking, good organisational skills and an eye for detail.

If you think that this position is for you and you are a driven, compassionate, trustworthy, well organised individual, please visit our website to view a detailed job description and download an application form.
Deadline for applications is Friday 11 January 2019. Interviews will take place week commencing 14 January 2019
www.cavaliercentre.org.

Page Last Updated: December 4, 2018

HRH Princess Anne Chairs 49th RDA AGM

The 49th RDA AGM took place in Glasgow under the Chairmanship of the charity’s President, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. Held within the splendour of Trades Hall, Glasgow, the AGM brought together delegates from RDA groups all over the UK – many of whom enjoyed a traditional Scottish welcome at the previous evening’s Ceilidh.

In her President’s address, The Princess acknowledged that next year’s 50th anniversary would be the time for reflections, but she took time to recognise the experience and expertise within the RDA family, made up of many years dedicated service by RDA’s volunteers and coaches.

Delegates were treated to talks from RDA riders Max Stainton, who recently became the first person with Cerebral Palsy to trek to Everest Basecamp on a horse, and Anne Brown, whose dedication to RDA extends to having the charity moto tattooed on her behind!

When asked about speaking in front of The Princess, Anne Brown said: “I was trying not to see her there but, of course, had to have a few sneaky peeks to gauge how it was going. As I realised she was smiling, then laughing, I kinda relaxed a bit. I was worried that I was overstepping the mark a wee bit, but it seems I wasn’t, so I’m glad that I went for it.”

The AGM also offered the opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of outgoing RDA Chairman, Sam Orde, whose time in office officially ends in April 2019. Sam was presented with an Honorary Life Vice Presidency by The Princess Royal, who thanked her for the nine years she has given to the role.

The lively programme also included a welcome from The Lord Provost of Glasgow, Eva Bolander and presentations from Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of Sport Scotland, Occupational Therapist Rhona Harkness and Hazel Johnstone of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Director of Operations for RDA UK, Claire Milican presented her ‘Top of the Ops’ – a run down of the top ten innovations, improvements and activities delivered by the operations team at RDA National Office during this year.

Communications Manager, Caroline Ward, offered a taster of the proposed celebrations for RDA’s 50th anniversary throughout 2019.

“Thank you to our regional team in West & Central Scotland for hosting this year’s AGM,” said RDA Chief Executive Ed Bracher. “I am also grateful to Her Royal Highness, not just for chairing the business of the day, but for taking the time to meet so many of our participants and volunteers during her visit. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our 50th AGM next year!”

For copies of any of the day’s presentations please email Angela Sly at asly@rda.org.uk

Awards
• Honorary Life Vice Presidents – RDA UK Chairman Sam Orde and Deputy Chairman Sheila Saner
• President’s Award – Patricia Wilding of Clytha RDA
• Dudley Smith Award – Joan Jack and Alison Mackintosh – Brae RDA
• Loriners Education Award – Moray RDA
• Birt Spooner Cup – Max Stainton

Page Last Updated: November 19, 2018

Job Opportunity at The Diamond Centre RDA

The Diamond Centre Riding for the Disabled in Carshalton, Surrey is looking for a Yard Manager to join their professional team. This is a live-in position. The successful candidate will be highly motivated, well organised with excellent communication and stable management skills. They will be responsible for the management and care of the Diamond’s ‘Stable Assets’ which include 30 horses and ponies and associated tack, land, arenas and equipment. They will work as a member of the management team who will develop, maintain and supervise a teaching programme to meet the objectives of The Diamond Centre – that being the provision of riding and driving for disabled children and adults. They will have at least a BHS AI qualification and a minimum of 3 years practical experience in yard management. The package includes a self-contained 2 bedroom flat on site along with a competitive salary.

Please apply direct to the Centre Manager, Angela Moloney angela.moloney@diamondcentre.org.uk

Image result for the diamond centre rda

Page Last Updated: October 22, 2018

New Research Into The Benefits of RDA Volunteering

A new study is set to reveal the motivations and benefits experienced by volunteers who give their time to RDA. The biggest survey of its kind carried out by RDA aims to capture information from as many of the charity’s 19,000 volunteers as possible.

If you are an RDA Volunteer you can take part by following the link below

https://ns24.askia.com/WebProd/cgi-bin/askiaext.dll?Action=StartSurvey&SurveyName=Mane

“There is plenty of anecdotal evidence about the importance of volunteering in how people feel about themselves, and RDA volunteers are no exception,” explains Matt Cobble, Volunteer Development Manager at RDA UK. “But we have never been able to back that up with proper research. Many key organisations in the sporting world are now recognising volunteering in sport as an activity in its own right, now is a great time for us to find out if there really is a positive impact on those who take part.”

The results of the survey will be added to a qualitative study on the same subject. Both elements will form part of a White Paper to be launched in Parliament during the Spring of 2019 as part of RDA’s 50th anniversary.

The survey will be circulated to groups and will also be available on the RDA website, Twitter and Facebook pages. “We are urging all volunteers to take part. It doesn’t take long to complete and will give us valuable insight into the difference volunteering can make,” says Matt.

Page Last Updated: October 17, 2018

RDA seeks ’50 Faces’ for anniversary project

For our 50th anniversary in 2019, RDA UK is running an external facing publicity campaign with the aim of raising awareness of RDA to the general public. The campaign ’50 faces’ will comprise 50 portrait photographs of people within our organisation who challenge the perceptions of disability, volunteering or equestrian sport. The resulting portraits will form an interactive collage which will be used as a focal point for the RDA website, media campaign and social media throughout our 50th.

We will visit all our chosen participants to take the portrait and interview them. This will be a unique and engaging piece on the individual, their background or their RDA journey and will help to show the diverse range of participants and volunteers that make up RDA. 

 

What do I need to do if I want to participate?

Please email Beth Randles with a picture and brief background information about yourself, this will help us to choose a range of people from all different areas of RDA whether you are a volunteer, participant, parent or paid member of staff – we would like to represent everyone.

Beth Randles – brandles@rda.org.uk 

What should i include in the email?

In case you are not sure what to include in your email you could tell us about:

  • How you got into RDA & your RDA journey
  • Your age & background
  • Something unique & interesting that you also participate in – for instance other hobbies or your career 
  • Future aspirations 

Please be aware if you would like to participate in this campaign it is important that everyone involved feels comfortable with their name, image and story being publicly available and shared by RDA in print, broadcast and online- including social media. We hope to generate interest from the media through this campaign, so possible candidates should consider if they are happy to talk to journalists around their involvement with RDA (with support and guidance from us). 

 

 

Page Last Updated: October 11, 2018

9 year old Charlotte is RDA ‘Rider of the Year’

Clare Balding presents award to ‘determined’ Charlotte at charity fundraiser

Charlotte Seth, a 9-year old rider at Haworth Riding for the Disabled group in Yorkshire has been named ‘Rider of the Year’ at RDA’s annual awards night. Hosted by broadcaster and author Clare Balding, the evening also featured appearances from journalist and newscaster Alastair Stewart, Paralympian Natasha Baker and celebrity auctioneer Philip Serrell.

Rider of the Year Charlotte has Joberts Syndrome . This leaves her with balance and coordination problems, poor fine and gross motor skills and proprioception issues. She started riding with RDA when she was four. At the time, she needed a team of three volunteers around her as poor core strength meant that she was unable to sit upright on the pony.
“Riding is therapy without Charlotte realising the therapy is actually happening,” said Haworth Group Coach Jane Lawrence.

Through Charlotte’s determination, her RDA group have witnessed amazing progress in all areas of Charlotte’s development. Her core strength has improved to the extent that she now, with support, walks up the mounting block steps, supports herself on the pony and sits upright. She smiles throughout her whole lesson, even when she finds a session tiring.“She is so much more in control of where she wants to go and what she wants to do,” says Jane. “I’m so proud of her – I think she’s amazing.”

When asked what she wants to do when she grows up Charlotte replied, “I want to be able to do anything. I want to tell everyone they can do anything.”

 

Natasha Baker, Joanna Jensen of Childs Farm, Helen Seth, Charlotte Seth, Clare Balding

Clare Balding also presented awards to Volunteer and Young Volunteer of the Year and RDA Horse of the Year.

Volunteer of the Year – Helen Bacon, Pegasus RDA, Manchester
Helen is one of the founding trustees and a coach at Pegasus RDA which launched in Feb 2017. Helen runs the group day in and day out as if it was her full-time job, not a volunteer position. Everyone who touches Pegasus RDA benefits from the immense effort and time Helen gives and she has been instrumental in all of Pegasus’s greatest achievements over the past year.

To top this off, Helen was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in 2016. Through several gruelling courses of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, more scans and injections that I can keep track of, a lumpectomy and most recently a hysterectomy and appendix removal, Helen hasn’t stopped for breath when it comes to RDA.

In Helen’s citation, Haworth Group Chair Gill Petty wrote: “Pegasus undoubtedly would not be the amazing success it is now without Helen. For this and her selflessness, kindness and relentless energy to drive us forward, we nominate Helen Bacon as Volunteer of the Year.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clare Balding, Helen Bacon, Penny Taylor of Godolphin

Young Volunteer of the Year – Nia Miller, East Liverpool RDA
Faced with her own challenges of significant dyslexia and verbal dyspraxia, Nia is determined to achieve and to support others. As such, she Nia began volunteering at RDA and Sports Disability Academy Liverpool. As a volunteer Nia has coached specialised sports, officiated and assisted in running events with participants from around the country.
Nia has taken her passion for equine assisted therapy into her academic life, with her first degree dissertation in “Self-perceptions of disabled participants engaging in equine therapy” and her Masters in “Exploring female domestic abuse survivor’s experience of equine therapy”.

As RDA Group Coach Nia teaches individual and group lessons, ensuring all participants with different needs are safely cared for. She takes great pride in her care for both horse and participants. Modestly, she takes no credit for the enormous achievements of East Liverpool RDA at Regional and National Championships, as well on a weekly basis with their clients.

Nicole Adams of People’s Postcode Lottery, Nia Miller, Alastair Stewart

Horse of the Year – Lambrusco, South Bucks RDA
Lambrusco is a 26 year old 16.2h grey WB gelding. Lambrusco joined South Bucks RDA in January 2007. He is a gentle giant and has always been popular in RDA classes. With such a wonderful temperament he was soon competing in RDA Dressage and Para Dressage and in 2008 he went to Hong Kong and won 2 Gold and 1 Silver Medal with Sophie Christiansen.

Lambrusco is still giving pleasure to many riders on a weekly basis. His riders range from age 8 to 75 and he regularly does lead rein RDA sessions and private walk sessions with independent riders. He is so reliable and loves to go out around the woods for a good leg stretch. He recently won the RDA Dressage Anywhere Grade 1 Championship with a 60+ yr old stroke survivor on an amazing Score of 77.94%, proving to all that he still has it and is happy in his work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clare Balding, Helen Burt (South Bucks RDA), Marilyn Harford of SnuggyHoods

A night of celebration and fundraising
The four awards provided the backbone to an evening full of celebration that also included songs from internationally renowned Baritone Roderick Williams. Guests were treated to an interview by Alastair Stewart with Natasha Baker, and the evening culminated in an auction led by TV’s Philip Serrell.

Page Last Updated: September 28, 2018

SEIB Search for a Star RDA Showing Championship 2018

Homebred horse takes the SEIB Search for a Star Riding for the Disabled Championship

The much anticipated SEIB Search for a Star Riding for the Disabled (RDA) Championship final took place on the 6th September at the British Show Horse Association Hunter Championship Show at Addington. Qualified horses and riders travelled the length and breadth of the country, from Sunderland to Devon to attend the final.

The title went to John Hackett’s stunning homebred, Johan’s Debut, ridden by Tracy Steel. The judges, Jane Holderness-Roddam, Rob Walker and Addington proprietor, Tim Price were unanimous in deciding upon the winner.

Now in its second year, the Search for a Star RDA championship is really proving to be a great hit with competitors. Sarah Hadley of the RDA said: “Showing has added a welcome new dimension to the competitive opportunities open to RDA riders and this championship was a fittingly glamorous end to a fabulous season of events throughout 2018. Thanks to SEIB, not just for supporting this competition but for everything they are doing to promote Showing for RDA. We are also grateful to BSHA for allowing this class to be held at the Championships and to Addington Manor for hosting.”

John Hackett’s winning 16-year-old gelding, the homebred, Johan’s Debut is known as Devlin at home. He said: “I bought Devlin’s dam years ago and he is very much the one and only horse I have ever bred.” Tracy and Devlin qualified for the Search for a Star RDA final by winning the qualifier at the Hartpury RDA Championship. Tracy said: “Devlin got in the ring, knew what to do and just got on with it. He is brilliant. This win has really given me the drive to go on to do open SEIB Search for a Star classes next year.”

Tracy added: “The atmosphere at the championship was just brilliant. In the busy warm-up arena, I noticed that one of the younger competitors was becoming a bit overwhelmed so me and Devlin went over to speak to her. I suggested that she should walk round with me and Devlin. So we spent our warm-up together, walking round, making sure that the young girl was ok to get in the ring and do her best. I continued to keep an eye out for her when the class started.”

 “The reason we went all out to do the Search for a Star RDA Showing this year was to help raise the profile of RDA riders. Classes such as this make you really realise you can do it and that everyone is getting the same opportunity to get out there with the horses and do something new. This class really focussed on looking at how the horses and ponies are produced and not what the riders’ disabilities are and what they can and can’t do.” Tracy is a grade 4 rider and RDA coach with the Tyne and Wear RDA group at the Washington Riding Centre.

Thirteen-year-old Isabella Benfield and her mother, Alison’s pony, Cookies and Cream took the runner up spot. Isabella and Cookie nearly didn’t get to the finals. Alison said: “Doing so well came as a bit of a shock! We have had all sorts of problems with Cookie’s saddle slipping in the run up to the championship, luckily putting a gel pad under the saddle helped massively and enabled them to put in a great performance.” Isabella suffers from cerebral palsy and is very determined with her riding. She has ridden since she was three and the Benfield family have owned Cookie for two-years now. Alison added. “It is Isabella’s absolute dream to one day ride in the dressage in the para Olympics. We are always keen to support any competitions that are put on for para riders and the SEIB showing series has provided Isabella with a brilliant opportunity to do something a bit different with Cookie.” Isabella is a member of the Stratford-upon-Avon RDA group and is trained by Brittany Lankston.

Kayla Pratt and Claire Robinson’s skewbald pony, Hunky Dory took third place in the Search for a Star RDA Championship. Seventeen-year old Kayla said: “I felt honoured to have the opportunity to go to this exciting show with Dory. Everyone went into the ring with a smile on their face and I am just delighted for Dory that we did so well.” Hunky Dory’s owner, Claire Robinson, owns Robinson’s Equiteach in Great Ayton, Middlesborough. Two ponies and riders from Claire’s yard qualified for the Search for a Star RDA Championships. Phoebe Whitfield riding another of Claire’s ponies, Alice, also competed in the final. They finished in seventh place.

Kayla’s mother, Sandy said: “Kayla has been riding at Claire’s since she was six. It is such a fantastic place and Claire is phenomenal with the effort, time and energy that she puts in. It is a real team effort and we all either travel to the shows together or in convoy. On Thursday we all piled into Claire’s wagon with the two ponies for the four-hour plus journey.” Kayla who suffers from a language disability disorder is studying for a BTEC in Art and Design at the Northern School of Art.

In fourth place was 10-year-old Kassia Dudek riding Natalie Burns’ black pony, Rio. Natalie runs the East Liverpool RDA Group which has 28 RDA ponies.  Kassia learned to ride on Rio and has been riding him for around three years.

Taking fifth and sixth place in the finals were two riders from ‘Ride 2 Achieve’ RDA group in Hereford. The team from Ride 2 Achieve very nearly didn’t make the finals following a blow out on the motorway en route to Addington. Janet Alderton who runs Ride 2 Achieve said: “A huge thank you to the fantastic judges and stewards and all our fellow competitors for allowing our riders to join the class 5 minutes after it had started. My daughter, Jo Alderton drove like a pro following our blowout on the motorway.”

In fifth was Alex Stevens from Ride 2 Achieve with Briony Sellar’s, Caplor Hill Billy.  Alex said: “Billy’s owner, Briony thought that me and Billy would get on well together showing so she suggested aiming at this class. We have had a pretty intensive stint of training to get ready for the competition. I work really hard to be competitive with my riding and we have a really great group of people at Ride 2 Achieve and everyone really supports each other with a huge focus on enjoying the horses”. 20-year-old Alex works as an engineer and he mainly competes in para showjumping competitions.

Lesley Sayers and Janet Alderton’s, Marteg Victory were delighted to take 6th place in the final. This is the second year that Lesley, who is registered blind, has competed in Search for a Star. She said: “I have ridden since I was a child. When I lost my sight, I had been having a break from riding, but once I had my guide dog I found Janet and ‘Ride 2 Achieve’ and decided to give riding another go, she has been so supportive. When I am riding, it is the one time that I feel truly independent and doing something on my own. I don’t need my guide dog or my mum to help.”

SEIB’s Marketing Manager Nicolina MacKenzie said: “SEIB is renowned for putting something back and I think we have really achieved this with the RDA Search for a Star. Many of the riders in the final are fairly new to showing. Some of our competitors have expressed an interest in competing in the open Search for a Star classes next year which is just brilliant.”

The SEIB Search for a Star RDA competition requires competitors to ride around the ring together in walk and trot before lining up and performing an individual show.  Any type of horse or pony is able to compete and the class will be judged 30% on conformation, 30% on turnout and 40% on suitability, manners and way of going, so giving a good individual show will be important to the overall result. Full rules for the competition are to be found on the Search for a Star website.   

Leading equine Insurance brokers, SEIB Insurance Brokers provide cover for horses, horse boxes, yards and much more.   The company has a long association with the showing world and is renowned for ‘putting something back’ by supporting many grassroots equestrian events and activities. 

For full details, rules and entry forms visit www.search4astar.org.uk and click through to the RDA section. Find SEIB Search for a Star on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/SEIB.Search4AStar.

For insurance queries visit www.seib.co.uk or call 01708 850000.

Page Last Updated: September 21, 2018

RDA, BD Intellectually Disabled Championships

Saturday 1st September at Solihull Riding Club

Over the last few months British Dressage (BD) and RDA have been working together to create a new opportunity for RDA Intellectually Disabled (ID) riders to compete.  With the help of Rachel Smith (Sport Operations Officer), Natasha Pearce (Para Officer) and Julie Frizzell (Para Director) from British Dressage and John Robinson (RDA Dressage Chairman) this would never have come to fruition.

Riders that had competed in the RDA Regional Qualifiers in ID walk only, walk & trot and walk, trot and canter classes were selected and invited to attend the Championships at Solihull.  27 entries came forward from around the country to proceed down the centreline and deliver some excellent tests.  It was amazing to see so many happy faces, thanks also go to triple gold medallist Julie Payne for presenting all of the riders with their rosettes and taking the time to pose for so many photographs with her gold medals.

Congratulations to all the highest placed junior riders, Jonathan Rigby in the walk only class, Jessica White in walk & trot and Kasia Dudek-Mcgee in the canter class who received extra rosettes

We are really looking forward to working with BD again on this Championships.  Please keep a look out for news on the 2019 event.

Page Last Updated: September 21, 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: September 18, 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: September 18, 2018