Bridget Hughes, Kirsty Allen, Suzanne Farg and I attended the Riding for the Disabled Charity’s National Championships last weekend, at Hartpury College. Kingsley Napley were one of the proud sponsors of the event and we went along with open minds and a sense of intrigue about what to expect.
The RDA National Championships is an annual extravaganza, where hundreds of competitors of all ages and abilities compete in various events, including dressage, show jumping, countryside challenge and carriage driving.
The event is now so successful, it is bigger than the Paralympics and Para World Championships combined, which is difficult to compute.
We set off for the Championships thinking we would be entertained and inspired by those competing, particularly in light of the personal battles each individual competitor faces with disability. What we were not prepared for, was the breath-taking display that we witnessed, for each and every event. The riders, drivers and competitors were simply awesome, showing supreme skill and ability in their chosen discipline.
We felt honoured to present some of the prizes, enabling us to meet some of the winners and runners up, to congratulate them and find out a bit more about them.
Being part of this fabulous event was and is a truly humbling experience. The entire event was masterfully organised, with the competitors and horses turned out to an impeccably smart standard. Leather was polished, silver and brass shone to perfection. Not a hair out of place, human or equine. The stalls and marquees gave the event an air of celebration and the atmosphere was electric.
We were lucky enough to hear a talk from Max, a rider who has cerebral palsy and is embarking on the world’s first trek to Everest base camp by horse. This astonishing feat has never been attempted before and Max is a truly brave and inspiring person, with a vision that reaches far beyond the confines of his electric wheelchair. Max hopes to raise funds for the RDA, to enable them to build a national training centre. I will be donating – will you help too? More details can be found at https://www.ridingeverest.com/. I wish Max the very best of luck and have no doubt that his determination will ensure he reaches his goal.
The RDA is a fantastic charity, which offers so much more than access to sport for those with disabilities. It felt like being part of a huge extended family at the Championships and I can’t wait to see which riders make it to the Paralympics team next. Thank you RDA for allowing us to be part of your special event. Keep up the good work!!