RDA Creative Writing Competition 2024

Now in it’s eighth year, the RDA Creative Writing Competition is open for 2024.

Each year three classes are available for poems, letters and short stories. The theme for this year is simply, ‘RDA’, a category that allows our participants to have full creative liberty. The entry could be about an exciting experience had at an RDA group or a poem about a favourite horse or pony. The RDA Creative Writing Competition is open to all RDA participants (riders, carriage drivers and vaulters), of all ages and abilities.

In need of inspiration? Check out a few of 2023’s stand out entries below.

Flynn Tippet

South Buckinghamshire RDA

I Love RDA

Poem entry. The page has an orange border around an acrostic poem. The poem reads I Love RDA.

Cass O’Brien

The Unicorn Centre

A poem to my Horse

Here stands my very gentle giant

With such kindness in his eyes

His soft and gentle nicker

Greets me as I walk near

He waits so very patiently

As I climb slowly onto his broad warm back

He turns his head to make sure I’m ready

And then we will proceed

He carries me so gently with tenderness

We work together as we become one

He knows my strengths and weaknesses

My pain and my frailty he knows all to well

As we move together we built a special trust

My body relaxes and mind becomes clear

We work to achieve our very special goals

He is so gentle he knows now I’ve no fear

We walk, we trot, I laugh, I smile

His big grey ears flicker and listen

Now I know we could go for miles

On my trusting gentle giant who gives his all

I’m so very lucky to have this wonderful place

There are so many wonderful horses just like mine

All have that special something that creates a solid bond

For those lovely people who ride through these super places

With an amazing family simply known as RDA.


Tia Siddle

Saddleworth RDA

A 2nd Chance

Checking everything from my gloves on my hands to the saddle beneath me. I had to make sure everything was perfect. Everything seemed so chaotic around me. It was my turn, I gently adjusted my seat and squeezed my Ellie’s stomach slightly to ask her to walk on. We began to walk towards the arena. We went through the gate and the chaos surrounding us seemed to have disappeared and Ellie began to increase speed as we approached. This was the moment all our training had been for. 

We were approached the jump fast but then I began to hear ringing. It was getting louder until suddenly I was startled awake. I realised it was my alarm ringing beside me. I closed my eyes again hoping to drift back to sleep, I wasn’t ready for this to be over. A tear slowly rolled down my cheek as I knew it was gone. Another thing taken from me, even all my wishing for it to come back couldn’t bring it back, just like my ability to ride after my accident. As I sat there trying to remember every detail about my dream as though it had happened for real. It felt just as it did when me and Ellie were competing years before. Soon the memories of my dream were replaced with ones from the accident. The memories caused more tears to roll down my cheeks as I remember every detail about the crash, from the fear as the car sped towards us to the doctors in the hospital telling me I would never be able to ride again, telling me I would never be back looking between Ellie’s palomino ears. 

My dad came in and wiped my tears away and my parents told me they had a surprise for me. We drove for what felt like hours cause I was so excited. When we finally arrived I was filled with confusion, we were at a stable but not Ellie’s old stable. I was at an RDA center where I would be able to ride again, despite my disability after my accident. I was so happy to be back riding. I was so happy to be back in the saddle, I didn’t even care that it wouldn’t be with Ellie. I was so happy to be back riding. I was greeted by the friendliest team of volunteers who all made me feel so welcome. They helped me with everything from hat fitting to stability in the saddle. Everything was very different from the last time I was in the saddle but I was so happy to be riding again. RDA made me feel so welcome and happy to continue my journey back in the saddle. I’m so happy my parents have found this amazing RDA group and I can’t wait for my lesson next week. 

Hanfa Nadeem

Saddleworth RDA

Magical Horses at RDA. 

If you’re reading this, it’s probably too late right now, as you have already entered the magical world. 

You see I wasn’t always like this, I used to be human- now an RDA horse. 

The only way for you to understand is if you read my story. 

This is how it all began…… 

 It was an ordinary day the sun was shining brightly and I was enjoying a cup of hot chocolate until, I heard a thudding knock on the door. It was a parcel and it was anonymous. Hmmm what should I do I thought? 

Well it’s on my door step, so I’m Intrigued let’s open and see if there is a name inside and I can try to locate the rightful owner. So I opened it up and that was it, that very moment when my life changed FOREVER, a job application pack, to work at a barn- well not just any barn, but at Saddleworth RDA! 

I heard rumours that once you join RDA there’s no returning, you get sucked into the magical life so I signed up and that was it. Everything went fuzzy around me, it almost felt like I was either on a rollercoaster or part of a Harry potter movie struggling to join the platform 9 & 3/4. 

This feeling lasted for hours, until I heard some excited children chattering at a distance, I saw a clear blue sky. I could hear volunteers saying I will escort from the stables, are we staying in the arena or walking through Saddleworth? 

I turned around and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I couldn’t believe what I saw, I was… I was… I was a HORSE! 

So then began my new journey as an RDA horse, I got lead to the arena and guided to the  stand where excited children would come and ride on me; I hear chattering and cheerful children developing new skills, children overcoming fears, pain and feeling free from anxiety. 

They feel great, I feel loved and welcomed. I am at the centre of providing an amazing experience for families. One child then another, galloping around the fields but caring for my riders and volunteers, I feel special, I feel great. 

Hey I now believe those rumours join RDA and you definitely get sucked into a magical world of calmness and feeling free. 

I love having my mane groomed and saddle and stirrup adjusted and oh boy I love the carrots and apple treats. I think being an RDA horse is much better than human. 

What’s that beeping I hear? It’s getting louder and louder, I’ve heard that sound before… 

Ohh it’s my alarm, and in exactly 3 seconds I will hear……………………………….. 

Hannah Rodgers

Erme Valley RDA

Dear Madam

Dear Madam,

l am writing to share with you the life-changing impact my involvement with Riding for the Disabled has had on me, and also the ongoing wonderful contribution the volunteers are making to my life. My name is Hannah Rogers I have Cerebral Palsy which affects all four limbs, I am unable to walk and require the use of a wheelchair. I was signposted to Erme Valley RDA in 2004, after
a long battle attempting to ride again following hip surgery; it was the painstaking efforts of a dedicated raft of volunteers and a beloved Cob named Ketchup who was so kind and gentle who, with her everlasting willingness and understanding took care of me. Step after step, stopping, starting because of pain in my hip; it was absolutely my decision to proceed in this way — with volunteer and horse working together they quite literally pieced back together the one thing that meant the most when | thought all was lost and gone forever. Fast-forward to 2022 and Erme Valley is flourishing and I’ve had the great privilege of seeing my fellow riders own RDA journeys unfold whether that be achieving greater independence, encouraging decision-making, riding independently for the first time; learning life skills through working with horses, that’s what’s fantastic about the RDA as a whole organisation: there will be amazing, moving stories coming from every centre throughout the UK. Likewise the volunteers are so generous with their time whether it be walking around an indoor school for an hour and a half so someone can receive the therapy, exercise they need: going away to regional or national competitions or, turning a horse out in the rain in winter — it simply wouldn’t be possible without them.

I have been able to further my own development within RDA now a Director, I hold the post of Rider Representative for Erme Valley for which I have received so much support from my fellow directors. In this new role I was encouraged to bring fresh ideas to the group, given the chance to try new things, attend meetings; all assist in building my confidence and self-esteem to this day; I am very fortunate to have the opportunity of working alongside such dedicated individuals, most especially as we continue to emerge from the pandemic and they have helped shape the person I have become.

I love to watch the magic that happens between horse and human; it is truly something to cherish. I am eternally grateful to RDA, thank you will never, ever be enough. I have the honour to remain, Madam, Your Royal Highness’s most humble and obedient


Miss Hannah Rogers, Rider Representative Erme Valley RDA Ltd.

Barbara Bekowitz

Berwickshire Group

A Good Life

Dear Margaret, 

This is my RDA health journey which you have asked me to write before, but I’ve never got around to doing until now. This letter is a thank you to you (and your team) for taking me from a terrified novice to a Hartpury rosette winner preparing for my RDA Bronze certificate. 

When I first came to you, nearly 20 years ago, I wore a splint to try to stop me tripping over my none working right foot. Ten years of MS had resulted in muscle wastage and lack of feeing in much of my body. I was working a physically active job and regularly swimming lengths at the pool but my friend Alison encouraged me to join her with RDA riding.  

You put me on Sherman, built like a solid little tan but terrifying for me. Led by Kathy plus two side walkers my eyes were stuck on his neck and I think my hands gripped the saddle. I was straight into a hot bath as soon as I got home. Every muscle ached after my weekly riding sessions but gradually things changed. The time of aching muscles had been worth it. 

My walking improved! The drop foot reduced and eventually I could lift my foot ‘normally’. After about a year my calf muscles came back and the splint went into the back of a cupboard. My weekly riding sessions with you kept me both mentally and physically mobile. 

Then everything stopped with lockdown. No riding. I noticed muscle wastage returning in my calf. I am convinced that without RDA riding my right leg would now be useless and I would not be walking now. 

Thank you, Margaret, for making me into a rider, but also for keeping me walking. 




Get writing, entries for the 2024 competition close on the 1st of March 2024.