Triumphant return of RDA Championships

The RDA National Championships returned this weekend after a three year break with two days of action-packed competition. Streamed live for the first time on H&C+, the event featured hundreds of competitors and over 100 horses competing in dressage, carriage driving, showjumping, vaulting, Countyside Challenge, showing, best turned out, Horsecare & Knowledge and Arts & Crafts from Friday 15 to Saturday 16 July. Sunday’s classes were suspended in anticipation of the souring temperatures.

While for many the return to face to face competition at Hartpury University & College felt like a family reunion, for others this was their first taste of national-level competition. Commentator for H&C+, Jenny Rudall, described coming to the Championships as like ‘a big hug from RDA’, alluding to the friendliness of the event that welcomes competitors and their families from all over the UK.

Julie Furber, who came first in her section of the Grade 5 Championship Dressage class commented: “Because there has been such a long break between Championships, everyone was a bit flat from not being able to come, and when we turned up Thursday, we didn’t know whether there would be as much of a buzz, but we’re pleased to see there is! People are saying hello, chatting and saying good luck.”

She continued: “The Championships is a very important event. The participants get so much pleasure out of horses and riding and being able to take part in something. We’ve enjoyed it and seeing others enjoying it too. I feel privileged to take part in and be part of it.”

Paul Ringer, Interim Chief Executive for RDA UK, who was experiencing his first Championships said: “I must give thanks to Anne Coney, National Championships Chair, as well as her committee and the army of volunteers who have made this event what it is. I also extend my thanks to Hartpury University & College, for allowing us the use of their world class facilities.

“From my first encounter with RDA over 20 years ago I was in no doubt about how important this charity is. RDA is a movement, a real success story built on people, inclusion, opportunity, community, and this weekend… competition. The special working partnership between people and horses is historic, and long may it continue to grow, develop, and be better understood in society.”

Having taken the decision to suspend Sunday’s competition, organisers also ensured that people and animals were well-looked after in the sunshine of Friday and Saturday. The volunteer team of vets were on site throughout to monitor horse health and well-being, and classes were reorganised to avoid the hottest part of the day or held in covered arenas.


All results here:

Carriage Driving, sponsored by Red Gorilla, kicked off proceedings, with three classes. The Novice class was won by Stacey Tiley with Eddie from Stella Hancock RDA Carriage Driving Group. The Intermediate was won by Ann Cameron and Red from Forth Driving. Sandra Spinner triumphed in the Open with Mario, also from Stella Hancock.

RDA County Coach for Derbyshire, Chris Marbrow was presented the Dudley-Smith award to recognise her important contribution to Carriage Driving through her hard work and unsung efforts as a volunteer.


The British Showjumping Graded classes were as exciting as ever, with first place in the Grade 3 going to Toby Bevins of Dauntsey Vale RDA riding Baloe V, and Clare Pope of Bedale RDA winning the Grade 4 riding Lucinda.

In the RDA Showjumping, supported by Oliver Wight EAME LLP, Class Champions for Levels 2 to 4 were: Jenny Lee riding Domino from Haworth RDA,  Lizzie Bennet riding Drunkeen Boy from Cambridgeshire College and Catriona McCartney Kitson from Avon Centre riding Axholme Thor.


Showing, supported by Oliver Wight EAME LLP, continues to grow in popularity, with four classes, including the SEIB Search for A Star. Julie Cooper from Erme Valley, Jessica Limb from Helen Atkins and Sarah Hannaford from Saxon were winners in their classes.

Countryside Challenge

The ever popular Trefoil Guild Countryside Challenge had 5 classes on Friday. Class Champion for ‘Led with One Side Walker’ was Niam McArdle riding Criccieth Pixie from Mount Pleasant Group. Also from Mount Pleasant, ‘Led or One Side Walker’ Class Champion went to Paolo Alzetta riding Rhianydd. The ‘Independent’ class saw Class Champion awarded to Annie Wordley from East Liverpool RDA riding Brackenback Flash Harry. First place in the visually impaired classes went to Peter Acari riding Robbie in ‘Led or One Side Walker’ and Rhian Hurley on Reggie in the ‘Independent’ class, both from Bridgend County.

Best Turned Out

Best Turned Out wins went to Kirsty Mabin (Junior)and Eleanor Halton (Senior), both of Erme Valley. Eleanor, who also came second in her show jumping and showing classes said: “I love riding at the Championships, the whole experience is amazing. For me and the other riders, it’s such a special show and it’s a big highlight of our year.”


All results here:

Saturday brought the dressage in all its glory, supported by Dodson & Horrell, with 21 classes including Totally and Partially Visually Impaired, Grades 4 to 7 and Freestyle.

The Bob Galbreath Trophy, awarded to the Junior rider with the highest percentage in the Grade (1-6) Dressage Classes was won by Daisy Britnell of Garsington RDA Group riding Dakota Snow Thief. The Dance Trophy, awarded to the highest scoring rider in a Championships Dressage class who has not previously competed in dressage at the National Championships, was won by Tara Redfern from Wenlo.

Countryside Challenge

Day two of Countryside Challenge saw Tom Dawson from Belvoir Vale, Georgia Leniston of Newcastle & District, Millie Bostock of Cotswold and Rebecca Harper of Haworth awarded Champions in their class, with Lily Chant of Wellow and Amelia Elliott of Mount Pleasant placed first in theirs. Lilly was awarded the Charlotte Jessup Memorial Trophy, as the top scoring Junior Visually Impaired Rider in the Countryside Challenge.

Tom Dawson was awarded the British Show Pony Society Championships, W S Pettit Memorial Trophy as the highest scoring rider in the Countryside Challenge over the 2 days, with a score of 91.25. Tom’s pony, Llanyfelin Seastorm was awarded the Maggie Tansley Memorial Shield, as the highest scoring horse in the Countryside Challenge over the 2 days.


It was a great day for Cambridgeshire College RDA in the vaulting, sponsored by Childs Farm, with Kate Hollis awarded Class Champion in the Individual Walk Freestyle, Lizzie Bennett winning the Individual Canter Freestyle and Lizzie again along with Edan Hays winning the Pairs Walk class. On the vaulting barrel, the winning team featured competitors from Cavalier Centre, Cambridgeshire College and Gaddesden Place. The Individual Barrel class was won by Jacob Reilly of Calon RDA.

Best Turned Out

The Best Turned Out Junior was won by Kassia Amelia Dudek-McGee on Karibok Queen of Hearts, and the Seniors winner was Emma Hawken of North Cornwall riding Night Sky Shakira.

Arts & Crafts

Saturday also saw the judging of the highly competitive Arts & Crafts Classes, sponsored by LifewithArt. Paintings & Drawings (Junior) was won by Lily McKay of Watershed. The Seniors was won by Tabitha Payne and friends from White Rocks Farm. Collages (Junior) was won by Hannah Smith of Epsom, with the Seniors won by Henry Slade of Epsom. Group Collages (Junior) was won by 10 artists from North Pembrokeshire & Cardiganshire, and the Seniors by artists from Muirfield Riding Therapy.

Roni Stubbings of Calon won the Sculpture Junior class, and Harry Tucker & Nina McLoughlin from Acorn & Squirrels Exeter took first place in the Seniors. In the photography section, Roni Stubbings triumphed again the Juniors, while Jenny Bridger of Penniwells took first place in the Seniors.


RDA would like to extend its gratitude to all the supporters of the Championships, without whom none of this would be possible:

Hartpury University & College (venue)

Dodson & Horrell (Dressage)

Oliver Wight EAME LLP (Showjumping & Showing)

Childs Farm (Vaulting and Horsecare & Knowledge)

JM Finn (Endurance)

Trefoil Guild (Countryside Challenge)

Red Gorilla (Carriage Driving)

LifewithArt (Arts & Crafts)

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery (travel grants)

Horseplay (rider hoist)

SOS group (office equipment)

Wainwright Screenprint (event clothing)

The Worshipful Company of Loriners