RDA National Championships – Saturday

Following a very successful regional RDA qualifier we were all set to take six riders to the RDA National Championships in the middle of July. Unfortunately not everything went according to plan. First of all we had issues with the horsebox, which meant that we were unable to take our own and a big thank you to volunteer Pat and daughter Claire, along with their horse Murphy, who let us use ‘Murph’s box’. Secondly, in a reminder that horses can get injured as easily as us humans both Rafferty and Lula had soundness issues that meant a 9 hour round trip to Gloucestershire was not possible for them this year. Luckily Tawny the old pro was ready to step into the hole left by Lula, and Oural, in his first trip to the RDA National Championship would replace Rafferty in the Grade 1 dressage.

First up was Charlotte in her dressage. It was a bit different riding Tawny at 12.2 hh compared to Rafferty who is 16.2 hh but Charlotte rose to the challenge. Tawny who is safe as a pony comes decided he would not give Charlotte any help though and tried to cut corners wherever possible and also stopped for a toilet break! Charlotte was fantastic, whatever Tawny throw at her she made the corrections and demonstrated great resilience! Well done Charlotte not only did she show some expert riding she beat her score from last year too! Charlotte who is blind needs eight callers for dressage and four tappers for Countryside Challenge (more on that later). Her callers and tappers mean that Charlotte knows where she is within the arena and knows where the obstacles are in the Countryside Challenge.

Charlotte with her rosettes and some of her calling and tapping team

Next up was Andrew in the Countryside Challenge. For those of you who are not familiar with Countryside Challenge the riders have to complete a course of obstacles they might meet if they went for a walk in the country. They have to post a letter, steer around obstacles, walk under low branches, stop at the road to check for traffic, walk over a bridge and open a gate. Andrew did a very good job throughout the course but you have to be absolutely perfect to do well at the National Championships and Andrew came a very respectable 7th in a big class.

Tawny, Andrew and Clare at the gate
Andrew opening the gate

It was then time for tack and turn out. Clare did an amazing job plaiting Owly’s mane and tail and making sure that there was not a spec of dirt on him, the rest of the helper team ensured his tack was gleaming. But tack and turnout is not just about the pony, the riders have to be spotless too and wear show jackets rather than sweatshirts for this competition. Andrew did a fantastic job of looking smart, such a good job in fact he was 2nd in the junior class with Charlotte coming 10th.

Then it was time for more work for Tawny (he is a very hard working pony). This time it was Charlotte in the Countryside Challenge. Charlotte’s team of tappers use wooden sticks to tap the objects to help her locate them. This means Clare has to use very few verbal commands to help Charlotte meaning that she can demonstrate a high level of independence. Charlotte had wanted to do the Countryside Challenge off lead, which she did on Lula at the regional championships. Unfortunately the pull of grass and other green plants on the country side challenge would be too much for a greedy pony like Tawny. Needless to say Charlotte did a incredible job on a long lead rein, especially as Tawny had another toilet stop mid course. Her demonstration of independence was obvious to the judges and she didn’t only win the junior section, she was class champion with the highest score across both junior and senior sections. Well done Charlotte!

Charlotte concentrating on steering Tawny
Charlotte steering in the random bending

Horse Show

Nicco doing the countryside challenge

Sunday 1st July saw our annual Horse Show take place. Our riders could take part in dressage and/or countryside challenge classes and for the second year running the weather was very kind to us.

The morning was dedicated to dressage. First up were the off-lead dressage tests, which were kindly judged by Linda Nelson. This class was won by Holly riding Dusty. This was Dusty’s first attempt at RDA dressage and he was a very good boy. One of the great things about holding this competition at home is that all of our riders have the opportunity to compete. When we go out to competition we are unable to take all the ponies and horses as they have to undergo additional training to ensure that they will be safe in an unfamiliar environment with all the added complications of competition too. For our new horses this show at home introduces them to bigger audiences, a greater range of sights and sounds whilst still in a familiar environment so is a key part of their training.

Holly and Dusty in their dressage test
Holly and Dusty

The next class up was the freestyle, which could be completed with or without music. Here the riders choose what dressage movements to include and both the music and the movements should suit the horse. The winner of the freestyle was Claire riding Oural. This was Oural’s first off-lead RDA dressage competition and he had been drafted in at the last minute as Rafferty had gone lame. This was only the second time that Claire had ridden Oural (the previous time was a hack) and was an important competition as it was the dress rehearsal for the National Championships two weeks later.

Claire in her wheelchair with rosette
Claire receiving her rosette and trophy from Linda

The final dressage class of the day was the led class that was kindly judged by Gwen Egginton. This class was won by Evie riding Jaybee. Evie has not been riding long so this was a real success. She also had the highest overall dressage score and therefore won the ‘Jet the Blue Peter Pony’ trophy for the highest score across all dressage classes. The trophy was presented by Mrs Mary Mitchell. Well done Evie.

Mary and Evie with rosette and trophy

Following the dressage, the afternoon was spent doing the Countryside Challenge. Again there were three classes, one for riders with sidewalkers, a led class and an independent class. The first obstacle on the Countryside Challenge course is to post a letter in the post box.

Boycie standing by post box

It was a warm day and all the spectators tried to stay in the shade of the hedge. Here you can see our Chairman James and Scorer Gill, watching the activity in the Countryside Challenge ring. The winner of the class for riders with a side walker was Isabella who has only been riding since May last year. The winner of the led class was Andrew, which follows up his second place at the regional championship in May.

James and Gill

The final class of the day was the Independent Class. This was a very fiercely contended class that produced some of the highest scores of the day but more on that later. For William who has ridden with us for about 30 years it was a lovely celebration of his time riding at Barrow Farm as it was his last ride with us before moving to Oxfordshire. In the end the class was won narrowly following an excellent round by Isabelle on Tango.

Isabelle and Tango at the apple tree obstacle

We award a very special trophy to the rider with the highest score over all the Countryside Challenge classes. The John Adler Trophy celebrates all the hard work that John did for the group in over 30 years as a Trustee. The winner this year was Isabelle on Tango. The trophy and rosette were presented to Isabelle by last year’s winner Charlotte. Well done Isabelle!

Isabelle holding rosette and trophy with Charlotte

Thank you to all those who sponsored the classes including Kampa, Thermotel, Spring GM, Murphy and the Peck Family.

Finally we have to say a big thank you to all the volunteers who made this day possible. We needed lots of help stewarding as well as all the helpers working with the horses and ponies. Thanks also to all those who made scones and cakes for the strawberry tea, we raised £300.

East Region RDA Competition

Charlotte and Rebecca with their rosettes

Well done to the whole team who went to the RDA regional competition on the 20th May. The riders, parents, carers, volunteers, ponies and staff all did a fantastic job. Six riders competed in the Countryside Challenge, with Isabella and Harvey coming 4th and 6th in the class for riders with a sidewalker. Team Barrow Farm RDA did a fantastic job in the led class with Emanuele winning, Andrew 2nd (both qualifying for the National Championships) and Darcey a very close 3rd. It was the first time all these riders had attended so a big well done for rising to the occasion. In the vision impaired class, Charlotte, who is blind, scored an incredible 88%. Charlotte has competed before. She has been used as an example to promote more blind riders to take part in the event but she is always up for a challenge. So this year Charlotte completed the Countryside Challenge off-lead on Lula with Clare only there to provide audio information where necessary. Charlotte has a team of tappers who tap the obstacles so she knows where they are. Charlotte also qualified for the National Championships.

Boycie doing countryside challenge

In the dressage, Charlotte also qualified for the National Championships, her challenge in the dressage was to do it on a different horse. Last year she took the dependable Tawny, this year she went much bigger and rode Rafferty. She did a great job and Rafferty behaved impeccably apart from being keen to investigate the judge’s lunches which contained apples. Rebecca who rides alongside Charlotte on their regular lessons also competed in the new Introduction to Dressage qualifying class, she won her class and also qualified for the Nationals. Rebecca rode the very dependable Lula. On the senior team Claire rode Rafferty to win the Grade 1 dressage, with Emma on Lula coming a very close 3rd. Emma has had a busy week as she raised funds for Barrow Farm RDA earlier this week by going over the O2. Clare, her coach, said that she was really pleased with how Emma and Lula performed their test, they have been working on their accuracy and this paid off on the day. Another first timer was Gina who also rode Rafferty in the Grades 1-6 walk only dressage. She scored just under 68%, the highest Barrow Farm RDA score of the day and was another one to qualify for the National Championships.

Gina on Rafferty

Well done team, and we look forward to our next competition which is at home on 1st July, with the National Championships occurring 2 weeks later.

Emma goes over the O2

Trustee and rider Emma Harris went over the O2 and raised over £245 for Barrow Farm Riding for the Disabled. Emma was accompanied by one of our other trustees Karen Lehner who complimented the team of four who did a fantastic job of helping Emma to achieve this. They were blessed with fine weather and had some fantastic over London. A big thank you to Emma for raising this money for us.

Emma and team below O2

Open Day – 5 May 2018

Sophie and Nicco

Well done to all our riders and the horses and ponies who all did an amazing job showing off their skills at our Open Day on Saturday. Our regular Saturday riders demonstrated a wide variety of activities that we undertake at Barrow Farm RDA; including a walk in the wood, musical rides, countryside challenge, steering and a variety of other props. We were also treated to a few surprise displays. We had Emma and Sophie performing their fire themed musical ride (you can see Sophie warming up with Nicco above). Clare and Liv did a Beauty and the Beast themed ride on new horses Dusty and Vella on their Open Day debuts. Both of them behaved brilliantly all day and were not fazed by the audience.

Clare and Liv on Dusty and Vella

A big thank you to everybody who made cakes. It keeps the spectators happy and is a great way of raising funds too. The weather was lovely and lots of people stayed to watch several of the rides and enjoyed a piece of cake with a cup of tea in between. Thanks to everyone who came to visit and we hope to see you all again soon.

Cakes at Open Day

Going over the O2 arena in a wheelchair

For those scared of heights the thought of walking over the O2 arena may be daunting but it is a different challenge if you are unable to walk unaided. But this is what one of our riders, Emma, will be doing on 15th May to raise funds for Barrow Farm Riding for the Disabled. Emma, who has been riding with us for over 20 years, states that the reason she is raising funds for us is because ‘(Barrow Farm RDA) helped me reach my dream of competing in off-lead dressage’.

Emma and Lula dressage

Emma’s goal is to help other riders with disabilities reach their dreams. To support her please donate via JustGiving by following this link.

Successful Indian Night

Our recent Indian Night raised a fantastic £1,731 for Barrow Farm RDA.
Thanks go to Eddie, Oliver and Steve, our magicians; Simone and all the staff at @Decathlon at Riverside in Chelmsford; John Peacock, President and Chairman, Essex Shire Horse Association; Tim Turner, Chairman, Countess of Warwick Country Show; Andy Bloomfield of Ernest Doe, Ulting, Maldon; Waitrose of Billericay; Indian Night; Laura Walker, Beauty Therapist; Jo Moss-Rowe, Karen Lehner, Linda Poole and Martin Wood who generously donated raffle prizes; Chelmsford Centre Supporting Voluntary Action for equipment loan; Alice Mc Loughlin for creative design; and finally, Janet Doghan and Ian Mac, for organising and hosting the event. Thank you also to everyone who came and supported us.
Karen, Janet and Simone at the event

Riding starts again on 6th January

Happy New Year to all our riders, volunteers and supporters. Riding starts again on Saturday 6th January 2018. Lets hope it isn’t too cold in the riding school!

Jaybee in the snow

Writtle Christmas Tree Festival

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.

Christmas tree made out of decorated paper horses

Barrow Farm Show on 9th July

Katie and Starra after low branches
Katie and Starra having been under the low branches

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.

Kiara and Nicco in the Introduction to Dressage
Kiara and Nicco in the Introduction to Dressage

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.

Boycie and Holly doing dressage
Boycie and Holly doing dressage

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.

Trophy presentation
John Adler’s wife Hilary and daughter Fiona presenting the trophy and rosette to Charlotte

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.