For the fourth year we have entered a tree in the Christmas Tree Festival at All Saints Church Writtle. This year (as in the last two years) this has been masterminded by Gill Philpott. The tree is made up of green and red jumping horses that have been decorated by riders. Some of the horses and ponies feature too. The Christmas Tree Festival is open 10-5pm on Saturday 9th December and 12-5pm on Sunday 10th December with entry costing £3.
On the 9 July 2017 we held a competition at home for our riders. There were a number of classes that were offered including Introduction to Dressage, Dressage to Music, Pick Your Own Dressage and Countryside Challenge. The great thing about doing this at home was that the horses and ponies did not have to travel so we could offer it to all our riders. It was a great experience for some of our younger horses in preparation for them going out to compete at RDA competitions. It also meant that some of more inexperienced riders got to compete at home, where it was familiar rather than by being overwhelmed by competing in an unfamiliar environment.
The horses and ponies all behaved themselves brilliantly and the riders all did a fantastic job making judging very difficult. Some of our riders who have competed regularly did a good job but it was really good to see some new faces doing well too. Gina had never ridden a dressage test or even ridden in the outdoor manege but did an excellent job in the walk only Introduction to Dressage to come second. Boycie again demonstrated he plans to follow in Tawny’s footsteps when Holly, in her first RDA competition, won the Freestyle Dressage to Music.
All the competitors got a rosette with their favourite pony on it for taking part. The winners of each class got a trophy and the first six places all got rosettes that were kindly sponsored by Kampa, The Peck family and Murphy the horse (who belongs to one of our helpers – Pat Rogers Harrison. In addition we presented two special new trophies that will be awarded annually. Firstly there is the Jet Trophy for the dressage rider with the highest score across the competition. Some of you may not remember but Jet was very successful at dressage both in RDA competitions taking many riders to the National Championships and also with Anne before she switched to driving. The second was the John Adler Trophy for the rider who scored the most points across the Countryside Challenge classes. John was our longest serving trustee until he retired at the end of December 2016, sadly earlier this year John passed away. John was always keen to give riders new opportunities to provide enjoyment as well physical and educational benefits. Each trophy (which will get returned each year) came with a very posh rosette that the riders will keep.
It was great to see so many of our riders have the opportunity to compete and all do so well. Alongside the event, some of our volunteers offered strawberry teas for refreshment. These were very popular with both riders and spectators and raised over £400. We also need to say thank you to the judges who gave up their time to adjudicate on the day, we also need to thank Suzette for providing a feast for our judges for their lunch. Lastly we need to say a big thank you to all the volunteers who helped on the day, the staff and horses worked hard but the day would not be possible without all the volunteers who led, side-walked, helped organise riders and acted as stewards.
May was a very successful month for our riders at Barrow Farm RDA. Firstly on Open Day we had a large number of riders complete their proficiency tests or as we call them grade tests. These tests are part of the Riding for the Disabled Association’s education project ‘Learning Through Horses, Learning For Life‘. There are two separate awards, one for riding and one for horse care at each grade.
On Open Day, Sam and Emmanuele passed both Grade 1 Riding and Horse Care. For Grade 1 Riding they need to be able to sit happily and balanced on the horse or pony whilst standing, walking and changing direction. They need to demonstrate an exercise they have learnt and hold the reins. For Grade 1 Horse Care they need to know basic parts of the pony, such as eyes, mouth and legs; parts of the tack, such as reins and stirrups; and how to approach the pony safely. Katie already had her Grade 1 Riding but on Open Day she completed Grade 1 Horse Care.
Ryan, Amy, Charlotte, Katie P, Jack and Christopher all passed Grade 2 Riding. They had to demonstrate their steering through bending cones, stop their ponies between two poles on the ground, show a range of exercises and movements and when they got off they had to show that they knew how to put their stirrups up.
Well done to all the riders who completed Grade tests on Open Day!
On the 20th May we held our ever popular Open Day. This is a great opportunity for riders to show off their skills and this year they did that by completing Grade Tests and taking part in the musical rides. Charlotte who has total vision impairment demonstrated how she does the Countryside Challenge with the aid of her tapping team.
The day is also an opportunity for our ponies to show off their skills. The four smallest ponies Tango, Tawny, Boycie and Starra did a musical drive where they showed off a variety of school movement whilst being long reined. The bigger horses performed rides with the staff members, Louie with Sally and Owly with Clare took part in two rides. Rafferty was ridden by Lainey and JayBee by Livvy in the afternoon ride. Unfortunately this ride was outside during the only rain shower of the day so a big thanks to all who came out to watch it.
There was lots of cake, barbecue and refreshments sold. Our spring raffle was also drawn and we need to say a big thank you to Anita for organising this. You can see some of what went on in the video below.
A big thank you and well done to Jamie Newstead from Columbus School who ran the London Marathon to raise funds for Barrow Farm. Thank you to everyone who sponsored her, the final total was just over £1500. The money raised on sponsored events like this is critical to pay for the day to day running of the centre to enable us to provide the opportunity for so many disabled children and adults to ride. If anyone else is interested in doing a sponsored event for us – a run, a walk, a skydive… – please get in touch.
On Thursday 4 May 2017 student Lainey and riders, Ducky and Rebecca attended the Jack Petchey Foundation Essex Regional Youth Awards at The Civic Theatre, Chelmsford. The fun packed night included music and performance as well as a talk by Mark Richardson. Mark was part of the 4 x 400m relay team that won silver at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and gold at the World Championships in 1997. Mark also presented the Barrow Farm winners with their awards. Lainey received her award for showing exceptional care and enthusiasm in her work. Her communication skills with autistic riders have enabled them to really benefit and enjoy their riding. Ducky received her award as she has worked really hard to improve her riding skills, especially when riding independently off the leading rein. When Ducky started riding with us she was lacking in confidence but in the last six months she has the gained the confidence to not only ride off lead in walk but also start to do so in trot. Rebecca received her award for working very hard in her riding, in particular to learn and improve her rising trot, this has improved her confidence as a rider.
Congratulations and a big well done to Lainey, Ducky and Rebecca!
On Sunday 30th April we hosted an excellent day of coaching by Paralympic rider Sir Lee Pearson. The day was funded through the Jack Petchey Foundation after volunteer and student Lainey and rider Charlotte chose to spend their Jack Petchey Achievement Awards on specialist coaching. Sir Lee has won 11 Paralympic Gold medals and was truly inspirational to the ten riders who took part. The Jack Petchey Foundation supports young people from the age of 11 to 25 and whatever the age of the rider Sir Lee challenged and encouraged them to do better during their session. All the sessions were great to watch and I think all the riders enjoyed having a photo taken with one of Sir Lee’s Gold medals from the Rio Paralympics.
On Tuesday the 25 April, Barrow Farm hosted nearly 70 coaches and volunteers from around Essex and Suffolk at a training day titled: Towards Independence. The session aimed to help volunteers support riders to encourage more independence in all aspects of their riding. This is important as it allows the rider to reach their own potential but also can encourage the rider to become more independent when they are not on the horse.
The day started with a session on the position of the rider and what holds you might need to support the rider and how these change as the rider progresses. The session run by local physiotherapist, Louise, also looked at how novice riders loose their balance especially around corners or in transitions. There was then time to reflect on this learning as the delegates watched our regular Tuesday morning ride in progress.
There was plenty of time for discussion over lunch before the afternoon was spent taking part in three workshops. Each workshop focussed on a different RDA discipline, Countryside Challenge, Dressage and Showjumping and worked on developing the volunteers leading and support skills that would allow the rider to become more independent. The day proved very popular and hopefully all of the participants learnt something that they could take back to their riders in groups across the southern part of our region.