Disabled carriage drivers from the Riding for the Disabled’s South East Region met at Sands Farm, Warnham recently in the annual qualifying competition for the RDA National Championship held in July 2020.
Drivers from across Surrey, Kent and Sussex went head-to-head in the three combined disciplines of dressage, cones and obstacles with only the top placed competitors qualifying.
The Carriage Driving Groups represented included East Sussex’s Kipling County (Chalvington), West Sussex’s Cherry Park (Chichester) and Happy Landings (Billingshurst), Surrey’s Stella Hancock group (Worplesdon), Kent’s Bradbourne (Sevenoaks) and for the first time, Alkham Valley (Dover).
There was edge-of-the seat excitement, particularly in the Novice Whip where young sisters, Gemma and Stacey Tiley from the Stella Hancock Group competed against each other in their first competition. Happily, they came first and second (respectively), both qualifying for Hartpury and both scoring exactly the same time in the cones.
The final results showed less than a point between them. Linda Redmond, also of Stella Hancock, came third to make the hat-trick of qualifiers.
Following his second place at the Nationals this year, Jack Marr from Bradbourne continued his winning streak in the Intermediate Whip qualifying again but at the higher level. Amanda Hardy of Happy Landings also qualified for coming second.
Sandra Spininer of Cherry Park, hot on the heels of winning the Championship at the Nationals this year, qualified safely in the Open Class.
In the non-qualifying Assisted Whip’s Class, Amanda Wakefield pipped team mate, Josie Cyster, both from Kipling County, to first place.
Julia Hockin of Regional Sponsors, Cowan Architects, presented the awards. She was impressed by the speed and agility. “These drivers are really inspirational but it’s also lovely to see their warmth and pleasure at having achieved so much. I’ve been amazed today” she commented.
The day’s organiser, Helen Pritchard, gave thanks to the hard work of the team behind the scenes in putting the event together saying: “I take a lot of pride in the events that we offer to our regional members and the team is amazing at getting stuck in when we really need it. We’re also very grateful to our wonderful judges led by Sara Howe, an internationally acclaimed carriage driver and Team GB member.”.