Despite dodging the ‘April’ showers, the annual Riding for the Disabled Challenge Day saw a record number of young riders from across the South East. Riders representing RDA groups from Sussex, Kent and Surrey converged on East Grinstead’s Felbridge Show Ground onThursday May 9 to display their riding skills in a range of activities.
These included the Countryside Challenge, which was a qualifying event for the RDA National Championships in Hartpury, Gloucestershire in July.
Most of the riders had come to go head-to-head in the Countryside Challenge which enjoyed the most entries ever, but there was also a dressage competition, a Handy Pony, Gymkhana games and the fabulous fancy dress which rounded off the day with a Children’s Books theme.
This was judged by Liz Rubin from RDA’s regional sponsor, Cowan Architects, who selected Samber RDA as the ultimate winners with wonderfully home-crafted Little Red Riding Hood entry.
The Countryside Challenge follows a simulated course where the riders put their skills to the test by tackling obstacles and tasks they might find in the country. These include going through a gate, crossing a ‘road’, entering a farmyard, picking an apple from a tree and posting a letter. Although great fun, this also tests their steering, balance and confidence.
In the Countryside Challenge qualifiers, it was a clean sweep for East Park RDA (Newchapel) with Kyle Coleman and Darcy Brown, Orla Wynn, Erin Hunt and Olive Hamilton-Stent all enjoying qualifying places. Fairlight Hall RDA (Hastings) did the same in the senior section with Christopher Bigaignon snatching first for a second year running, and Christopher Tite qualifying in second place. Fairlight Hall also did well in the Independent Class, winning both Junior and Senior qualifying slots with Rosie Turner and Joe Roud respectively. Zoe House of Fairlight Hall also qualified in the Seniors.
Plumpton’s Hope in the Valley RDA stole the show in the another class with Stanley Porter and Fergus Tarr both going through.
It was a day when everyone was a winner but the dressage was dominated in one class by riders from Quest RDA (Chobham, Surrey) who were at the competition for the first time, and ended up enjoying the Newcomer’s Trophy for their successful day.
Bradbourne also did well in the Senior classes with Peter Broome winning twice and Eliza Daus also winning to build on their success from last year.
Samber RDA (Woking) celebrated a win with Hetty Nadin in the Junior dressage, as did Chalkdown (Staplehurst) with double winner, Paul Montgomery, who topped his class in both the Senior dressage and the Countryside Challenge.
Liz Rubin, an interior architect at Cowan Architects, presented the prizes and said “It was such a treat and an honour to participate in this inspiring event and meet such enthusiastic young people. The weather was pretty good, despite a few showers and there were smiles all round”.
Lindsay Correa, Chairman of RDA across the South East praised the volunteers and organisers who had had to cope with the large number of entries and collate the results in super rapid time. “They are all an extraordinary team, and you only had to see the reactions from our riders to see that we absolutely achieved our aim of providing them and their families with a superb day” she said.