This year’s RDA Regional Championships was back at Danescroft with Banbridge and Moira, Bangor, Coleraine, Laurelview, Lisburn, Minnowburn, Newry and Omagh competing.
As usual, much hard work had gone into preparing both riders and horses and turnout judge Hilary Jones remarked on the high standard that had been achieved.
The Countryside Challenge course ran alongside the outside dressage arena and both were busy all morning with well-remembered tests and a lot of concentration and determination. Indoor competitors produced a high standard and were luckily out of the chilly wind.
There was plenty going on in the marquee where Laurelview had a cake stall with lots to tempt the taste buds. The Horsecare Quiz was well supported throughout the morning with riders being tested on such things as colours, markings and grooming kit.
The Arts and Crafts competition was very kindly judged by artists Julie Johnston and Carol McAvoy, who awarded first prize to Omagh. They spoke of the high standard of the entries, which displayed the innovation, imagination and collective skills of those who had worked so hard over the past months. Lots of different materials had been used such as a feather for a noseband which cleverly conveyed the softness of a horse’s muzzle.
Entries were up on last year and Hilary Idzikowska, organiser, felt it took RDA beyond the riding school environment and into the classroom and home. Banners from the Parade of Groups at Balmoral Show were also on display.
The competition was fierce as qualification for the National Championships in Hartpury was on the line.
Indoor trophy senior: Austen Burns (Newtownards Group).
Indoor trophy junior: Grace McSorley (Omagh Group).
Outdoor trophy senior: Diane White (Banbridge and Moira Group).
Outdoor trophy junior: Dylan Smith (Lisburn Group).
CC top score senior: Bobby McCallister (Newtownards Group).
CC top score junior: Aliyah Ashe (Laurelview Group).
Dressage competitor, Jill Connery of Banbridge and Moira group, came first in her class.
Jacqui, Jill’s mum, said: “We always like coming to RDA competitions. There’s a great buzz and it’s nice to see everyone so well turned out.”
Newry group brought eight young riders from St Joseph’s Primary School in Bessbrook, who have only been riding since October. Excitement was high amongst these very young five and six year olds. They had had a brilliant time and wonderful morning’s competition and according to young Hannah: “It was the best day ever!”
A big thank you to all who judged, volunteered as stewards, first aiders, caterers and drivers and to Claire Walker for organising another successful Regional Championship competition.