Spirits were high at the RDA National Championships as over 500 competitors gathered at Hartpury College for three days to remember. As part of the event, there was also an opportunity to celebrate the charity’s 50th anniversary.
Huge crowds turned out on the opening day to welcome RDA’s President, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, where she presented prizes at the Supporters Reception to long-serving volunteers and supporters before enjoying the 50th Anniversary Parade.
The Parade featured representatives from all RDA activities and disciplines and from each of the 18 Regions in the UK.
On day two there was great excitement as YouTube Sensation; This Esme visited the event to video content for her channel. She also met volunteers and handed out rosettes to worthy winners during prize giving ceremonies.
Having never experienced vaulting before Esme was blown away by the skill and balance of the riders and she couldn’t resist having a go, jumping onto the vaulting barrel to try out some moves with the help of 50 Faces, the RDA’s 50th Anniversary campaign participant, Sam Davison.
The buzz of the event continued throughout the final day as the high standard of competition was unrelenting.
Competitions included dressage, carriage driving, showjumping, endurance, showing, costume dressage, vaulting, best turned out, horse care and knowledge, arts and crafts competition, as well as The Countryside Challenge.
The Countryside Challenge is unique to RDA and was created to emphasise the therapeutic benefits of riding with RDA. It features a series of individual elements designed to stimulate a walk in the countryside where the challenges force the rider to engage their body whilst demonstrating their riding ability. At the end of the course the rider must open a gate, ride through and close the gate behind them.
RDA Communication’s Manager, Caroline Ward said:
The RDA National Championships is not just about competitors coming along to ‘have a go’, it’s about the competition.
The hours of training that go into reaching the level of riding on display are awe-inspiring and the camaraderie between participants and volunteers makes the event like no other. We are already looking forward to next year.”
Classes are graded to ensure everyone has a fair chance to go home with a rosette or a coveted championship title.
With competitors attending from 115 RDA Groups this year’s championships was bigger than ever with friendships made while soaking up the amazing atmosphere.
This was summed up well by volunteer, India Collins-Davies who said:
If I could bottle up the way RDA National Championships makes me feel and keep it all year round, I’d be the happiest person on earth.”
50 Faces has been supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
To learn more about what the RDA has to offer, visit www.rda.org.uk