Carriage drivers from the Riding for the Disabled’s South East Region were out in force at Sands Farm, Warnham, this week in the annual qualifying competition for the RDA National Championships in 2015. Drivers from RDA driving groups from across Surrey and Sussex went head to head in the three combined disciplines of dressage, cones and obstacles.
Only the top two places in the Novice and Open classes qualified. The RDA Groups represented included East Sussex’s Heron’s Ghyll (Whitesmith) and Kipling County (Chalvington), Happy Landings from Horsham, West Sussex and Stella Hancock’s team from Worplesdon, Surrey.
In an exciting finish through the obstacle course, Linda Clark driving Dennis of Kipling County won the Novice by one point from Steven Evans also of Kipling County.. Kipling County took the top spot again in the Intermediate, with Joanne McNicol driving Alan, beating Sarah Pain driving Eddie from Stella Hancock Driving who had to settle for second place for a second year running.
Also for a second year running, the Open was won by Sue Sherlock of Happy Landings with Serenade who beat Tracey Spenser of Heron’s Ghyll with Bertie Bassett.
Chairman of the RDA South East Region, Lindsay Correa said “it was fabulous to see such a high level of skill from all the competitors as carriage driving is never easy. We’re also very grateful to every one of the volunteers who make this possible and to our judge and commentator Sara Howe, herself one of the UK’s top carriage drivers”.
Carriage Driving in the RDA is nearly 40 years old, having been offered since 1974 at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst when donkeys were used. Competitors ride with an RDA Whip as an instructor who has to pass rigorous and vigorous assessments to be qualified, as do the ponies.