Our plans to take part in the RDA National Championships with 7 participants, 2 horses and a team of support volunteers took a blow when the Amber weather alert for exceptionally hot temperatures on Sunday 17 July led to RDA National Office taking the sensible decision to suspend that day of the Championships. Sadly, this was when most of the Team Epsom RDA supported by James’ Jar of Gifts participants were due to compete. It was hugely disappointing for all involved especially our participants: those who were going to experience the thrill of the Nationals for the first time and those who were so looking forward to a return after a three-year break.
However, we did have one Team Epsom RDA supported by James’ Jar of Gifts riding participant who was scheduled to compete in a showing class on Friday and a dressage class on Saturday. After careful consideration with the welfare of our precious ponies foremost it was agreed there were enough precautions in place for Romeo and his companion Dazz to travel safely to and from Hartpury Equine College in Gloucestershire giving our rider, Jon, the opportunity to take part in the Championships.
A downsized volunteer team accompanied Romeo and Dazz as they set off in the cool of the early morning on Friday arriving safely in Hartpury a few hours later. Romeo and Dazz were rather impressed by the A class American bar style spacious airy stables. Romeo met up with his rider, Jon, and both were soon into action in the SEIB Search for a Star showing class. A first attempt at this discipline for Epsom RDA. Although not placed, Jon and Romeo did Epsom RDA proud drawing some admiring comments from those watching. They also gained some useful experience of riding in the massive outdoor arena ahead of their dressage class on Saturday.
We were also represented at the National Championships by Hannah who had two entries in the Arts and Crafts section of the Championships. The judging for these classes took place on the Saturday. Hannah did fantastically well to achieve a 1st place in the Arts and Crafts Collage class Junior Section and nearly made it a double first with her entry in the Photographic Junior Class coming in 2nd place.
Saturday morning bought another early morning start to prepare Romeo for his appearance in the dressage. Jon and Romeo took on the Grade 7 canter dressage test, supported from the side-lines by Romeo’s best buddy Dazz. In a highly competitive class Jon rode with confidence producing a forward going test and was rewarded with an excellent score of 64.04%. Although this wasn’t enough to secure a place in the ribbons, we are very proud of their performance (and of Dazz for his impeccable companion pony performance!)
Jon and his family took some time after the pressures of riding (and spectating!) to soak up the unique and inspirational atmosphere that is “Nationals weekend”. Meanwhile the Team Epsom RDA volunteers fuelled by the campsite breakfast bbq repacked all the equipment and loaded Romeo and Dazz back onto the horsebox and headed back for home before it become too hot.
Although not the full-scale road trip we had so looked forward to it was a successful weekend for our Group: our participants fulfilling their potential, showing off our wonderful ponies and reconnecting with the wider RDA family. Our thanks to James’ Jar of Gifts for their generous funding which made it possible for Team Epsom to return to the RDA National Championships. James’ Jar of Gifts support a number of projects in the UK, providing facilities and resources for children and young people with intellectual or physical impairments that help them to develop their skills and promote their wellbeing.