The RDA run a series of grade tests for riders to take. This is a lovely way of recognising achievement; the riders receive a badge and certificate which they can proudly show to their family and friends. There are separate test for riding and horse care (they get a separate certificate for each) and initially there are four levels (Grade 1 – 4) for riders to work towards.
Showjumping was introduced by RDA in 2011 and Barrow Farm is lucky enough to have three trained showjumping coaches. There are a number of proficiency tests that riders can take and level 1 involves navigating a course of poles on the ground. The focus is definitely on technique rather than speed. Barrow Farm riders enjoy showjumping as it helps improve balance, motor skills and flexibility and is also great fun!
Endurance is another activity that all our riders can get involved in. It provides a great opportunity for rider to ride outside the arena. The distances start at 1km and progress to 16km. There are certificates for a range of distances at different speeds that riders can work towards.
Many of our riders will have a go at dressage. The term dressage comes from the French word for training and dressage is very much about the riders being able to show off to their family, friends, carers and of course, the judges how they have progressed in their lessons. The horse and rider perform movements to a set test depending on at which level they are riding at. These movements are likely to include riding circles of different diameters, performing transitions, for example walk to halt or walk to trot and there tends to be lots of changing the rein. To do well the rider has to be accurate in riding the movements as well as encouraging the horse to perform to the best of its athletic ability. Our riders will train to improve this at home. Many of our riders will then compete via video in an RDA competition run by Dressage Anywhere. We aim to take as many of our riders as possible (considerations here have to include suitability of the horse and other health and safety factors) to compete in regional dressage competitions and a number or our horses including Fergus, Macie, Lula and Rafferty have competed at the RDA National Championship in Gloucestershire in dressage. The video below shows Alex and Rafferty taking part in the Dressage Anywhere competition. On this occasion she came second, only beaten by Rafferty with Claire!