‘Great experience at RDA National Championships for ‘Team Stratford’

17 July 2013

in Events, The Latest News

Wow!  After a break of a few years, Stratford’s return to RDA National Championships at Hartpury College was an amazing experience.  After weeks of practising, the day approached.  Badger and Marco were washed and coiffed.  Neil combed mane and tails, and tack was cleaned (another string to Jon’s bow!).  Gail, Ann, Puffin, Rosanne and I collected the ponies early Saturday morning and set off in convoy down the Fosse.  On arrival, the ponies were unloaded into lovely cool stables where we were met by Group volunteers. already hard at work helping run the show.  More plaiting, wiping and brushing ensued, before Badger and Neil, resplendent in new breeches and boots, made their way to the Countryside Challenge course.  Tom and Liz, Badger’s previous owners, were thrilled to watch him and Neil negotiate the obstacles, supported by Alex and Puffin.  After a couple of errors and once nerves had settled, Neil and Badger went on to complete the course showing skill and a harmonious partnership.  We were all very proud of their performance.  They didn’t make the rosettes but scored an admirable 63.25%.  A quick change into stock and jacket and they were off to Best Turnout, where tack, pony and rider were scrutinised for cleanliness and presentation and gained 71%.  They made a good impression – but more elbow grease required next time!

We then had an opportunity to watch some dressage to music classes, followed by amazing vaulting displays.  Tiniest tots to adults all working together to get each other on the horse and perform gymnastic exercises, all dependent on the horse maintaining a metronome-like tempo in its paces.  True team work!

Then it was Matthew and Marco’s turn to perform in the vast International indoor arena.  Entered into the Showjumping Level 1 class, Matthew rode with determination and concentration, especially when Marco wavered at the first pole.  Unfazed and remembering Pat’s advice, he proceeded round the course in great style.  On completion of the round, he saluted the appreciative gallery, in true Matthew style, with a fist in the air!  A hard earned and well deserved moment of glory.

As Matthew was helping to wash down Marco, a red faced Guy rushed to the stables, urging Matthew to return for prize giving as everyone was waiting for him!  Matthew had come third, with a score of 70%, an amazing result.  The prize giving was very emotional.

Being part of the largest equestrian event for disabled people in the World was a truly memorable occasion for riders and helpers alike.

The achievements of ‘Team Stratford’ exceeded all expectations, not only results, but the behaviour of our wonderful ponies, the tireless efforts of all our helpers on the day -in wilting heat and most importantly, everyone involved in getting our riders prepared beforehand, whether it was lugging equipment into the field, setting out courses, or giving up time for extra practices.  I hope you agree it was well worth it.

Karen – Group Instructor

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