Baroness Dido Harding to address charity gala

Conservative peer joins Clare Balding, Alastair Stewart, Anneka Rice and others for celebratory fundraiser in aid of RDA

This year’s RDA Gala Awards will welcome Baroness Dido Harding as after dinner speaker, addressing a host of celebrity guests including Alastair Stewart, Anneka Rice, Sophie Christiansen, Lord Jeffrey Archer and others. The annual awards night, hosted by Clare Balding, celebrates the achievements of the charity’s riders, horses and volunteers.

“RDA is an extraordinary organisation that has always inspired me,” said Baroness Dido. “And it’s a huge honour to be asked to speak at the RDA Gala Awards evening.”

In addition to Baroness Dido’s after dinner speech, actor Peter Egan will present the RDA Horse of the Year, sponsored by Snuggy Hoods; The Volunteer of the Year award, sponsored by Godolphin, will be presented by Anneka Rice, and the Young Volunteer of the Year, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, will be presented by Alastair Stewart. The RDA Rider of the Year will be presented by Sophie Christiansen CBE and is once again kindly sponsored by Childs Farm.

“The Gala awards is our biggest night of the year, celebrating the achievements of RDA groups from all over the UK,” says organiser Sal Atkinson. “It’s fun, informative, inspirational – and always a bit emotional! We are so lucky to have the support of Baroness Dido and our other celebrity guests, who give their time to help make it such a special night for everyone. We hope to raise a huge amount on the night so we can do even more to enable disabled children and adults to benefit from our amazing horses and ponies.”

The event takes place at Shakespeare’s Underglobe on London’s South Bank on September 26. Tickets are available from Sal Atkinson at RDA UK satkinson@rda.org.uk.

About Baroness Dido Harding
In August 2014 Dido was offered a Peerage and now sits in the House of Lords as a Conservative Peer. She was appointed to the Economic Affairs Committee of the Lords in July 2017. She is a non-executive director on The Court of The Bank of England and Chair of the Bank’s Remuneration Committee. Dido was Chief Executive of TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC from 2010 to May 2017.

Prior to TalkTalk, Dido was Sainsbury’s convenience director, having been appointed to Sainsbury’s operating board in March 2008. Dido joined Sainsbury’s from Tesco PLC where she held a variety of senior roles both in the UK and international businesses. Prior to this, she worked at Kingfisher plc and Thomas Cook Limited where she gained considerable retail experience. She has also served on the boards of The British Land Company PLC and Cheltenham Racecourse.

She is a trustee of Doteveryone and a member of the UK National Holocaust Foundation Board. Dido is married to Conservative politician John Penrose, has 2 children and in what spare time she has left is a jockey and racehorse owner.

Page Last Updated: August 23, 2017

Sam’s Big Ride reaches Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Region at Shane Castle on Sunday 20 August
What a beautiful venue for a Big Ride and the sun shone too! There was plenty of room on Shane O’Neill’s wonderful property for riders and carriage drivers to head out in separate directions.
10 riders gathered at the farm steading with Robert Davis kindly bringing Cindy for Sam Orde to ride. Robert and his family host four RDA groups at their fabulous Laurel View Equestrian Centre. We enjoyed a 9 km ride along woodland tracks, passing along the banks of River Maine and Loch Neagh. Along the way it was great to hear from Patricia McClain, RDA coach for Lurgan Group about the successes of their new vaulting sessions and to hear more about their brilliant holiday programme.
The carriage drivers and some walkers gathered at the tea room next to the famous Shane Castle ruins. This was a hive of activity with a good gang of volunteers there to make sure that the day ran smoothly. 5 carriages and 14 carriage drivers from Ballyward RDA Group had come from two hours away and they were efficiently and calmly organised by Joanne Orr, who as well as running an RDA group provides carriages for weddings all over Ireland. The drivers aged from 5 to 70 years old took turns to complete a scenic 5 km drive, which I was told included passing spots where Game of Thrones was filmed. There was a great atmosphere and team work. The evident enjoyment of the carriage drivers was summed up by one young driver with autism:
‘I enjoy carriage driving because it is better than video games. It gets me out in the college holidays. I do it with 2 friends. I prefer doing this to anything else at the moment. I had never met a real horse until a few weeks ago and they are beautiful animals. Practising round cones in the indoor school taught me how to trot like this now. Now I would like to see what it is like to ride a horse and feel it trot when you sit on it. I still want to keep carriage driving as well.’
At the end of the afternoon all gathered for rosettes and certificates and to be thanked for fundraising for RDA’s new National Training Centre. This was the first Big Ride following completion of the purchase of Lowlands Farm, which is a big step towards this exciting project becoming reality!
Many thanks to Julie Frazer and all who helped make this a successful and enjoyable day.

Sponsor Sam at: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/samorde

From back of carriage

Big Ride RDA UK events so far 10
RDA riders/vaulters/carriage drivers 78
volunteers & supporters riding/carriage driving 56
volunteers walking 96
Big Ride Total km with ponies 1114 km
Distance by volunteers on foot 265 km
Big Ride events to go 11

 

Page Last Updated: August 21, 2017

Sam’s Big Ride Update: South Wales and South West

South West Region
Forde Abbey, Somerset on Tuesday 1 August
Exciting to arrive at this beautiful venue for the first carriage driving as part of the Big Ride project. RDA regional chairman Sue Ingleby and others were busy equipping an RDA tent with refreshments. Jenny Pennell carriage driving rep over saw the harnessing of 3 ponies to carriages in pouring rain as we all put on our waterproofs. As soon as the two RDA carriage drivers Linda and Denise arrived the sun appeared and thankfully shone all day. Three carriages with three RDA volunteers supporting on bikes and a car follower set off as a team through the stunning garden past Forde Abbey – what a view!
8 km later Linda, who drives from her wheelchair and whose CV includes having taught RDA riders as an BHSAI at one of RDA’s earliest groups and a stint of stunt riding in New Zealand, explained how much RDA carriage driving means to her: ‘It gives me the freedom to be out in the open and do something positive since my accident and the chance to be back with the ponies I love’. I had the interesting experience of being in a carriage driven by Judi and pulled by a lovely grey Dartmoor pony Demi. Demi has nearly completed his RDA training and it was great to see his pricked ears as he steadily navigated the narrow, high banked lanes and hills.
Lunch was a fun and chatty occasion with RDA supporters and Forde Abbey Carriage Driving Group overlapping with Chard and District RDA Group ready for riding in the afternoon. Two young RDA riders from this group completed 1.5 and 2km each, with many helpers walking alongside in support. William and Chloe were delighted with their rosettes and Big Ride certificates.
The day was capped off by a longer ride of 5km. RDA volunteer Greta kindly brought in two of her lovely hunters for Sam and Greta to ride over the hill and back, to finish off an active day with a very positive group of people.

South Wales

Green Meadow Riding Centre on Friday 4 August
The Big Ride received an enthusiastic welcome from Judith England and her brilliant team at her Green Meadow Riding Centre. This is a pretty special location in Dare Valley Country Park built on a reclaimed slag heap in 1976, with welsh hills on one side and the ex-mining town of Aberdare on the other.
A large group of people gathered to put on a special Big Ride day with a welsh twist. RDA riders, volunteers and ponies came from Green Meadow, Bridgend and Mount Pleasant Groups and all three regional chairmen were there to help. There was a real community effort on fundraising and RDA riders proudly produced their sponsorship forms at the start of the day. Our pre ride photos starred a welsh lady in traditional costume, welsh mascot toy pony and a big cheque for £1,500 raised by this event! With a bit of shepherding from Judith and regional coach Mike Butcher (who fundraised £350 with a fancy dress and raffle) we were ready. There was a tremendous team spirit as 10 RDA riders helped by 21 volunteers on foot and a dozen volunteers on horses set off together!
The RDA riders completed a 2km ride through the country park, before returning to rosettes, lunch, face painting and fun! The longer ride of a good 25km saw us climb to 446m for tremendous views across the welsh hills. This beautiful ride was virtually all off road. We rode through woodland with lunch provided under beech trees, where we sheltered from a brief shower. The wonderful ponies were sure footed up and down steep tracks and clearly enjoyed the ride including a couple of good spins. The end of the ride took us along an old coal railway line between ex miners’ houses. It was a chatty four hour ride and my favourite overheard question ‘Do you have a chicken called Darcy’……the answer yes and we all learnt quite a bit about hens!
This day gave a real boost to the Big Ride cumulative totals and it looks like we need to revise our 1000 km target upwards!

Sponsor Sam at: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/samorde

Greenmeadows_025

Big Ride RDA UK events so far 9
RDA riders/vaulters/carriage drivers 64
volunteers & supporters riding/carriage driving 46
volunteers walking 88
Big Ride Total km with ponies 837 km
Distance by volunteers on foot 231 km
Big Ride events to go 12
Page Last Updated: August 18, 2017

Job vacancies at Beechley Stables

ALLERTON, LIVERPOOL.
As one of the leading providers of riding for disabled for children & adults on Merseyside, Beechley Stables are seeking to appoint suitably qualified and experienced staff for the vacancies below. These key positions will steer the riding centre in a move from their current location to an impressive state of the art premises, within a mile of its existing site – at such point the Centre Manager will then be able to live on site, but in the interim will need to find their own accommodation.

CENTRE MANAGER F/T Circa £22,000
Tasked with being responsible for all operational aspects in the running of the stables, the Centre Manager will lead & train the staff team and volunteers; sustaining, maintaining and developing initiatives so as to ensure that the provision for our client group is not merely optimised, but operates to the utmost service standards. The post holder should ideally be a qualified BHSAI & RDAGC, who is well capable of all aspects of Horse Care by virtue of a minimum BHS Stage 2 / National Diploma.

GROOM INSTRUCTOR F/T Circa £17500
Alongside a fellow staff member and reporting to the Centre Manager, you will be responsible for the care and maintenance of all our horses and ensuring that the yard presentation is of best measure. With the ability to deliver high standard lessons to our service users, you will have suitable qualifications and experience including BHS Stage 2 Horse Care and an RDA Coaching Qualification enabling you to work unsupervised.

For consideration, please submit your current CV outlining your experience and qualifications to : beechleyrecruitme@gmail.com Please note candidates not receiving a reply within 10 working days, may assume their application has been unsuccessful, and in which case the Charity Trustees thank you in advance for your kind consideration.
PLEASE NOTE THESE APPOINTMENTS ARE SUBJECT TO ENHANCED DBS CHECKS

Page Last Updated: August 7, 2017

Mrs Broon’s Championships

So what’s it really like at the RDA National Championships? It’s time for the annual review from our very own Mrs Broon:

Just Sniff it up! Mrs Broon’s Nationals 2017

Third year at Nationals!! How amazing is that? Actually managing to get to Nationals three years in a row.

This year was different as we were a bit more organised but there was the usual flurry of activity starting the minute we qualified.
First there was the “How we’re gonny get there” organisers sorting out transport and travelling for horse and people.
Of course there was the “Who’s all goin” group sortin all that out. There’s was a wee bit easier as the horse and rider had to be on the list then somebody to look after the horse.
Then there was the “Who’s doin what when” organisation. How many nights to book for people and stables and last minute changes and adaptations to travel arrangements, horse transportation etc.
The most important of all was the How are we gonny pay for it” group, also know as “BegginLettersRus”
Most of the roles overlapped and we dragged in outsiders to do wee bits of it but somehow it all came together.

Then packing. In, out, change it all about and repeat! No more to be said in that subject except to discuss among yourselves how many pairs of knickers really are required for a 2 night stay away from home.

All the arrangements made and packing done, we set off. I had luxury transport travelling with SuperKate (Kate Bennet West and Central Scotland Regional Chair) who’s great company. Evelyn Lapsley ( Chair of Equi-Power trustees board) who owns Basil (the horse I was riding) and was the groom for the weekend, traveled with Borders RDA and Berwickshire Vaulters sharing vehicles. Coach Helen Kallow was collected from visiting her in-laws and left her hubby and three children there to come and help.

Once we arrived the support and camaraderie was amazing as usual. An RDA Volunteer (Jamie) took fantastic care of us and we spent the whole weekend with friends old and new. My turn to ride was Sunday morning. All went well and we did well, 4th place in a class of 14 with only 3.24% between 1st place marks and me.

That’s not just what it’s all about though, it’s about the fun and laughter that goes with it. Emma Wells was going around on her scooter on Sunday taking videos of people and asking what about RDA we liked the most. My friends gave me a challenge (which I accepted) to tell her that what I love most about RDA is the slogan and then show her how attached I am to it. I accepted that challenge and somewhere she has video of me doing exactly that showing her the slogan tattooed on my backside.

What sums up the weekend for me though, is having a wee wobble just before going into the arena. I had the sudden urge to blow my nose and couldn’t find the hanky in my pocket. Helen (coach) said “Just sniff it up and go and do it! You’ll be fine” So I sniffed it up, went and did it and it WAS fine! That’s what it’s all about!

Page Last Updated: July 21, 2017

Musical Ride & Carriage Drive Competition 2017

This year’s finalists in the Drill Rides were of a high standard. The dvds, and other recordings, gave great pleasure to the judges. We were impressed. The winners and runners up attained high scores with the rest of the ‘field’ presenting a higher standard than in previous years.

This year there were entries from 11 Regions, which is more than previous years and is very encouraging. Our thanks to those who entered for the first time.

There were only a few entries in the unled class which was won by Haworth Group. Well done to them! There were 17 entries in the class for those with leaders and/or side helpers. This class was won by Barrow Farm whose display entitled ‘A Military Exercise’ was beautifully presented and obviously very well practised. It was much enjoyed by the riders – as well as the judges! South Bucks entry was a close second – entitled ‘Teamwork 2017’. A true sentiment of RDA aims we thought.

Musical rides, whilst giving the opportunity for Groups to practise a variety of riding skills and school movements at home, also provide a valuable tool to illustrate what we can achieve and can be shown to help with local fund raising opportunities.

There were just two good entries for the Musical Carriage Drive class. We do hope more Groups will enter this class in the future.

Sally Campbell-Grey MBE FRDA HLVP
Discipline Co-ordinator

Page Last Updated: July 21, 2017

SEIB RDA Search for a Star competition wows judges at Championships

SFAS RDA LogoJudges at the second qualifier for the SEIB Insurance Brokers-sponsored Riding For the Disabled (RDA) Search for a Star (SFAS), held at Hartpury College on Friday (14 July), were so impressed by the standard that they sent four – instead of the planned two – through to the September final.

“It was a fantastic competition with an extremely high standard,” said judge David Bartram, who used to help at Wetherby RDA centre and officiated here alongside David Ingle and Richard Ramsay. “We had 30 entered and because they were so good, we decided to put four riders through to the final at Addington.”

The winner at Hartpury had only been riding her horse for a month. Gabby Blake, 24, who lives in Whatton in Nottinghamshire but is from Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, beat 29 other hopefuls riding The Rose of Derry, as her own pony, Geronimo, was unsound.
“My horse went lame a month ago — we tried to get him ready for today but he was too sore, so I used Rose,” explained Gabby, who does volunteer work. “She does lessons during the day and is an ex-show jumper, but she was so good, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. She was fantastic.”

Gabby, who is in the South Notts RDA group, has a rare and painful condition but has been riding for most of her life. “My parents are horsey and I have been for as long as I can remember — I got my first pony when I was two months old,” she said. “My main problem is pain, but when I’m riding I don’t feel the pain. I don’t get sore and it’s a lovely feeling.”

She competes with Geronimo in para dressage but used to do showing and has been considering returning to the show ring. She was impressed by the standard at Hartpury, where this qualifier was held as part of the RDA National Championships over the weekend of 14-16 July.

“All three classes were very good and it was quite a buzzy atmosphere,” said Gabby. “It’s great to have a showing series because it’s something different for us to do, and this has encouraged me to go back to showing. I hadn’t competed at Hartpury before and I certainly didn’t expect to do so well.”

David Bartram commented: “It was a fantastic competition with an extremely high standard. The winner was quite severely disabled but had the most lovely core position and rode really well. She got her horse in a beautiful rhythm and way of going, with its ears pricked the whole time. It was a lovely, quality animal and they were fabulous to watch — out-and-out worthy winners.”

The judges were full of praise for the runner-up, too – Lizzie Bennett, who rode side saddle on the coloured cob Rolo. In contrast to Gabby’s previous showing experience, it was Lizzie’s first show ring outing but she was undeterred.

“I’ve never done showing before in my life so I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t really know what I was doing,” joked Lizzie, 27, who rides one-handed with specially adapted reins from Mulryan Saddlery. “They’re normal reins but with holes along their length and three bars with metal spikes that slot in. You can move them up and down to make a shorter rein for jumping and a longer one for a nice long-rein walk or something like that,” she explained. “They’re really nifty! There’s another girl in my group who rides one-handed [Eleanor Currington, who finished sixth on Minstrel] and she uses them too.”

Lizzie had her own horse when she was younger, but had to sell him when she broke her back doing gymnastics about 13 years ago.
“It took me about 10 years to get back to riding but I was trying at a normal riding school and sometimes they had to pull me off the horse because I couldn’t move,” she revealed. “I joined the RDA about three years ago and it’s worked really well — I wish I’d done it before. My back will never be right; I’m in constant pain but it’s been that way for half of my life so I’m used to it.”

Her weakened left arm is due to a genetic condition that also affects her left shoulder. “It’s not helped by the fact that I keep falling off and landing on it,” she admitted.
Like many of the SFAS contestants, she was also competing in dressage and show jumping at the national championships. She and Rolo finished seventh in dressage on the second day and won their show jumping class on the first day.

“I’m very proud of Rolo,” said Lizzie, who works part-time at primary school intervention for special needs children in Saffron Walden, Essex. “The Cambridgeshire College RDA group was told he wasn’t an appropriate RDA pony because he can be quite naughty. But I love riding him because I know that even if he has his silly, spooky moments, he’s just a sweet little horse. I wish I owned him so I could ride him every day.”

Steward Chris Bartram-Lawton, who also helped with David Bartram at Wetherby RDA group, said: “Despite only being able to use one hand, the runner-up had a fabulous position and rode quite beautifully in a really good rhythm. She had only ridden side saddle four times so this was an incredible achievement.”

A last-minute decision to enter paid off for Middlesbrough-based Brooke-Leigh Johnson, 10, when her charming 15-year-old pony, Wrentnall Snowman (Spider), took the third qualifying ticket. Brooke-Leigh, who suffers from hearing loss and speech problems, has been a member of the Unicorn Centre for the past five years and is a keen competitor at all the shows held there.

“She’s come on in leaps and bounds and has a great partnership with Spider,” said yard manager Christine Beedle. “We had three ponies here at the [RDA] championships and thought we’d enter them in this competition for a bit of fun. I knew Brooke-Leigh would give it her best shot, and we’re delighted for her. We’ll definitely make the long journey down to Addington for the final.

“This pony had the sweetest outlook,” said David Bartram. “It went with its ears pricked, the jockey was smiling all the time and the whole package was picture-perfect.”
The fourth qualifier was Imogen Darke, 18, who was inspired to take part in this competition when she attended the initial lecture/demo given here last year, when the SEIB concept of the class first took root.

Imogen, who suffered a severe head injury in an accident at the age of 11 and spent two months in a coma, has little peripheral vision but she partnered Chandaem My Guy, her family’s 14-year-old hunter, with great aplomb.

“As a family, we’ve been involved with horses all our lives and we’re very lucky as the Erme Valley RDA group — which Imogen has attended for the past three years — is only 10 minutes from our home,” said her father Ross, a former jump jockey. “We are over the moon to qualify for the final. It’s a fabulous competition and we’d like to thank SEIB and Hartpury College, as well as all the judges for giving up their time.”

SEIB marketing director Nicolina MacKenzie, who first thought of the competition and pushed to make it happen, was delighted with both the numbers forward and the standard they represented.

“These riders are truly inspirational,” she said. “Many of them would give able-bodied riders a good run for their money, and the difficulties they have overcome in their lives are a lesson to us all. I am so very pleased that SEIB as a company has been able to launch this series and we are very grateful to RDA for its help with running this competition and its support generally.

“I am so delighted to be involved with this – it is completely new and one of the most important things I have ever done. I am sure it will go from strength to strength and we are all looking forward to a superb final at Addington Manor on 7 September.”

Page Last Updated: July 21, 2017

Three days of achievement and fun at National Championships

The weather was set fair for the 20th RDA National Championships, which took place over three fun-packed event-filled days from 14-17 July. With 400 individual competition entries, 200 horses and countless volunteers, the Championships was as inspirational as ever.

Special guests Carl Hester, Paralympians Anne Dunham and Ricky Balshaw and a film crew for CBeebies added to the sense of occasion – and with 1692 rosettes handed out there was certainly plenty to celebrate.

Fun-filled Friday
Friday visitors were treated to the ever-popular Countryside Challenge, VI Dressage and Showjumping, with Carriage Driving provided a thrilling spectacle as competitors and ponies navigated cones and obstacles to the delight of the crowds.

When Olympic dressage legend Carl Hester popped in to present awards to YELA Gold volunteers, the scene was set for a vintage Championships year.

Spectacular Saturday
Saturday was a big day for dressage, with a range of Freestyle and Championships tests. Team and individual vaulting classes resulted in wins for Perry and Cambs College in the individuals and the team of Berwickshire, Rainbow and The Brae.

The evening brought the creatively supercharged Costume Freestyle Dressage (a breath taking Bullfight assured the winning spot for Penniwells for the second year running).

Super Sunday
After Saturday’s ‘SuperHero’ Disco, Sunday started more sedately for some, but with twelve dressage and four Countryside Challenge classes, plus Horsecare and Knowledge and Best Turned Out continuing throughout the weekend, there was no let up for competitors and volunteers.

“I am so proud and delighted by everything that our groups have achieved this year,” said Championships Chairman Anne Coney. “We don’t underestimate the effort that it takes to make this event happen and I am grateful to everyone involved for helping to make this such a memorable experience for our competitors. The standard of horsemanship and the turnout of horses and ponies improves amazingly each year.”

Click here for a full list of results

Page Last Updated: July 21, 2017

British Reining Team slides to Silver

The first British Team to compete at a World Para Reining Championship took the Silver medal position on the podium on July 6th at the competition hosted by the Royal Dutch Equestrian Centre in Ermelo, Holland. The team riders consisting of Sir Lee Pearson, Fiona Durston and Ricky Balshaw posted solid scores to only be beaten by the more experienced riders who flew in from Canada. First out, Balshaw, riding stallion Yelena My Way banked a solid score, “It felt really good to be back in the saddle and with a flag on my chest. I am really looking forward to Saturday”. Durston, on Smart Like Valentino who rode a fluid and graceful test to post the high score of the day. Pearson on Shiners Lenas Oak brought the result home with an accurate and precise ride to seal the Team silver. Commenting on her run Durston said ~ With Ricky having already posted a score I was in a great position to go for it a little more and Tino knew exactly what to do. I think we both really enjoyed it. ~
Pearson commented after the event” Showing a wonderful, well behaved horse in a different discipline with a very enthusiast audience is credit to the temperament and training of these horses I think this is a very exciting time for another Para Equestrian discipline
Chef D’Equipe Francesca Sternberg said ~ I am really delighted. These riders have crossed over from the Dressage arena to compete in a new sport and in a very short period of time achieved an incredible amount. The medal is the icing on the cake and well deserved. They have all been an inspiration in the Dressage world and now they have become the same in the Reining arena, I am very proud of them
All three riders advanced to the Individual finals where Pearson placed 5th , Durston 6th and Balshaw 7th.
The whole team would like to thank the owners of the horses and sponsors that made this all possible.

Page Last Updated: July 12, 2017

Are you an experienced Equestrian Centre Manager? RDA has an exciting vacancy….

RDA Lowlands logo update_01_17_FINAL_OL-page-001
RDA’s National Training Centre is being built at Lowlands Farm, Warwickshire and we are looking for an experienced Equestrian Manager to lead us through the transition period. The role is an important part of this exciting project and we are looking for a confident person to take us through the set up phase, develop processes and put systems in place in time for completion and opening of the site.
Closing date for applications is Monday 3 July 2017.
Apply by email with a covering letter explaining why you would be suitable for this role along with your CV to jelliston@rda.org.uk
For more information download the RDA Transition Manager Job Description

A1 panels jpgs RDA_National_training_centre

 

Page Last Updated: June 20, 2017