Emma’s Journey to Gold

After two years of hard work, Emma Harris becomes the first participant to achieve the RDA Gold Award for Horse Care at Barrow Farm Riding for the Disabled (RDA) in Chelmsford.

Three photos of Emma Harris, achieving her RDA Gold Horse Care Award.
(Left to right). Emma practices grooming at Ashfields; Emma is checks out and learns about different types of saddles; Emma watches and learns Farrier techniques.

Emma has cerebral palsy and has been riding at Barrow Farm since she was 15 years old. Fast forward 25 years, Emma has continued to be a dedicated and enthusiastic member of the group, competing in Regional and National Competitions, becoming the Rider Representative on the Trustees in 2012 and giving talks at fundraisers for local Round Table groups and volunteer training sessions.

When the pandemic hit, Emma’s passion for RDA did not stop there, she set her sights on the RDA Proficiency Awards for Horse Care. In October of 2020 Emma achieved her Bronze and in July 2021 she achieved her Silver, and ever since then has been working towards her Gold Award.

In her own words…

Mixing sugar beet for horse feed for a healthy horse!

Checking tack for general wear and tear. Can it be used?

I have been working on my Gold Award in horse care since July 2021. I had to complete 7 modules which were: describing a horse, grooming, feeding, daily care of a horse, the healthy horse, tack and farrier techniques.

For the healthy horse module, I had to observe and talk to different professionals who come to Barrow Farm to make sure the horses and ponies stay healthy, professionals including the physio to keep the horses and ponies moving freely and the saddler who checks the horses and ponies are comfortable wearing their saddles. For the Farrier module I observed and talked to the farrier, it was really interesting to see the specialist shoes some of the ponies wear.

I had to produce a portfolio with reports on each module. Each coach at Barrow Farm tested me on different modules and wrote reports on my knowledge. Then my portfolio was sent to RDA National to be marked by 2 people.

I would like to say a big thank you to all the coaches for taking the time to teach and test me and write reports. I would like to say a special thank you to Karen Lehner who helped me every step of the way, I would not have been able to achieve my award without all her help!

Studying plants that are poisonous for horses – what to avoid!

Congratulations Emma!

Emma receives her Gold Award at the Barrow Farm RDA Christmas celebration.

Grooming a horse at Ashfields, something every horse needs!

Karen Lehner, Barrow Farm RDA Coach

Working with Emma was an absolute joy.  We had many pleasant hours at the stables, at the Saddlery shop and chatting over Zoom.  Making the portfolio was very fun but did take time.  I would be happy to talk to anyone interested in helping others to achieve what Emma has as I am very proud of her dedication and hard work.

Developed by RDA Coaching experts, the RDA Proficiency tests form a key part of the wider RDA Education programme, offering a valuable opportunity to recognise and reward achievement, at all levels of ability.

The RDA Proficiency test programme offers awards in Riding and Horse Care & Knowledge, increasing in difficulty from Grades 1 – 4 and Bronze to Gold, Gold being the highest possible achievement.

Read more inspiring participant stories here.

Find out more about Barrow Farm Riding for the Disabled here.