National Championships 2014

Friday 18th – Sunday 20th July 2014 at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire

The RDA National Championships is RDA’s flagship event, bringing together hundreds of competitors of all abilities in events including Dressage, Countryside Challenge, Vaulting, Horse Care & Knowledge, Arts & Crafts, Best Turned Out and Musical Ride.

The Championships has grown year on year and is now bigger than the Paralympics and Para World Championships combined. In previous years it has proved a springboard for the Paralympics, with many of the current Team GB having competed at The Championships.

Since 2002, the RDA National Championships have been held at Hartpury College in Gloucester. Riders who compete at the Championships will have first qualified at aRegional Qualifying Competition in one of our 18 Regions. The disciplines that the National Championships offer are as follows:

  • Arts & Crafts

  • Best Turned Out

  • Carriage Driving

  • Combined Training

  • Countryside Challenge

  • Dressage

  • Horse Care & Knowledge

  • Musical Ride/Carriage Drive DVD Competition

  • Showjumping

  • Vaulting

    Riders from all over the Country compete at the Championships and come away with a sense of achievement, great confidence, new friends – not to mention the odd rosette!

    Arts & Crafts

    This is another competition which has been designed for people to enter the National Championships but who find it difficult to travel for whatever reason.   As in previous years, classes will be open to ALL RDA participants.  Each Region will hold their own round of judging  (the deadline for entries submitted to your Regional Chairman is Wednesday 14th May). The winners of each class at Regional level are then sent on for the final round of judging at Hartpury in July.

    Participants can choose to work on an individual project or some groups decide to submit a group project. The artwork can take the form of a painting, drawing, collage, montage or even a sculpture.

    For more information about this exciting event, please contact Marisa Bretherton-Mackay on 01926 405973 or

    We can’t wait to see how creative your participants can be this year!”

    Best Turned Out Horse, Pony & Rider

    This class is judged purely on turnout and not as a showing class and is open to all riders. There is a Junior and Senior section each day with the groom of the winning pony also receiving a prize for their efforts.

    Carriage Driving

    Following the success of this competition in 2013 we are delighted that  Carriage Driving is returning to the National Championships. This year Regional Qualifiers will be held and if there are sufficient entries we will also hold an Intermediate class in addition to the Novice and Open classes already scheduled.  The competition will consist of a dressage test and a cones course followed by an obstacle course. For a copy of the Driving test please follow see 8th attachment down on the right hand side of the page. 

    Combined Training

    These classes are aimed at riders who are entering the Countryside Challenge and have opted to enter the Introduction to Dressage Classes. This class is designed to encourage Riders to participate in both classes. There is no extra riding involved, the marks from the Countryside Challenge will be converted to a percentage and then combined with the Dressage score..

    Countryside Challenge

    The RDA Countryside Challenge is a development of the skills acquired in RDA sessions. The course is focused upon school movements, both challenging and stimulating the rider, but with the focus being “fun”.

    During the course, riders have the opportunity to put their skills to the test through challenging tasks, going through the gate, into the farmyard encountering sheep and hens! Steering, balance and confidence are all put to the test.

    Riders will be required to qualify for these classes by attending their Regional Qualifier.  All classes will be divided into junior and senior.  The top two in each section achieving 60% or more will qualify for the National Championships.


    Riders qualify through their Regional Dressage Qualifier to compete at the Championships. They ride a specific test with a predetermined pattern in a 20m x 40m arena and can also choose to ride a freestyle test. Dependent on their impairment and/or experience, they can ride tests with walk only, walk and trot or walk, trot and canter. Dressage is a multi disability activity but at the Championships, intellectual disability and visually impaired riders can choose to ride in their own classes. 

    We will this year be holding all visually impaired dressage classes on Friday afternoon and are also introducing the intellectually disabled walk only test for newcomers only.  Please see the National Championships Handbook for full scheduling details.

    Find out more about Dressage and Dressage Tests

    Horse Care & Knowledge

    This is a fun, theory based competition open to all competitors. The class takes the form of a visual and tactile test of knowledge, using illustrations and items of equipment about which the steward will ask questions of the competitor.

    Musical Ride/Carriage Drive DVD Competition

    The RDA Musical Ride/Carriage Drive Competition reflects the coaching of flatwork skills and school movements which are included in most RDA sessions.

    Our ‘Back to Basics’ theme of the Musical Ride Competition, with no editing allowed, has now been running for several years. This has proved very successful and more and more Groups have decided to enter the competition, with commendable results.

    The RDA Musical Ride Competition originally evolved from these basic precepts at Regional level and we have decided to keep the ‘Back to Basics’ theme to encourage and enable even more Groups to have a go. As we all know, music has been shown to be a powerful element to improve and energise the performance of both horse and rider/carriage driver and we are looking forward to seeing a wider use of music to do just that.

    Do have a go and send in your entry to the Region (There is no entry fee for this first round of the competition). Once again, we are most definitely not looking for ‘professional’ productions. We would just like to see what you are all doing in your Groups

    This competition is split into two sections

  1. A musical drill ride or carriage drive with riders/drivers and helpers smartly dressed – for example in their matching Group sweatshirts – on well chosen ponies/horses.  If they wish to use modest fancy dress, for example to dress as soldiers to reflect marching music, then that is also acceptable.

  2. A musical story ride or carriage drive, this class invites Groups to use initiative, imagination and planning for a performance which tells a story – using basic riding/driving skills and school movements.  This does not have to be a formal drill ride/drive and can include props and fancy dress to tell the story.


    Following the success of the RDA Level showjumping competition in 2013 we are pleased to once again be holding a showjumping competition at this year’s Championships, for RDA Levels 1, 2 and 3.  Separate classes will be held for junior and senior riders, with additional sub-classes for led and unled riders at Levels 1 and 2.  This competition will be held on the afternoon ofSaturday July 19th.

    2014 will see the introduction of Regional Qualifiers for showjumping,, in order to qualify riders must achieve at least 60% in their class.  The top two riders in each section achieving the qualifying percentage will go forward to the Championships.

    We are also delighted to be able to confirm that there will be a competition open to Graded Showjumpers (Grades I – IV) at this year’s National Championships at Hartpury. This competition will take place on Friday 18th July.  Full rules for all graded riders can be found using following link: 

  3. Please note that Graded riders will be eligible to compete at this year’s competition providing that they fulfil the following entry criteria:

  • They possess a current British Showjumping membership


  • They are a current rider with an RDA Group or are registered as an independent rider with an RDA Group and they have been classified and graded for Showjumping 

Plus either:

  • They can provide a letter of recommendation/reference from their RDA Regional Showjumping Coach indicating that the horse/rider combination is deemed suitable to compete at the appropriate level


  • They can provide a proven record with British Showjumping.

For more information about showjumping, please contact Marisa Bretherton-Mackay on 01926 405973 or


Vaulting can be defined as gymnastics on the back of a moving horse. It is one of the 7 disciplines recognised by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI). The team of 6 (with a reserve) work with 1 horse under the control of the lunger. Vaulting is a sound basis to learn riding from and should not be seen as merely “jumping on and off” but a session that allows participants to work within a group, sharing not only the horse but the experience.



Last Updated: August 14, 2014