The Abingdon Group excel at the RDA National Championships.

Written by India Collins-Davies.

We are so proud of all of the riders who represented Abingdon RDA at the National Championships this year: every one of them has faced challenges in reaching this stage of such a unique and prestigious competition and are a credit to us as a group!

– Mia Prowse & Ocean (borrowed with great thanks from the RDA National Training Centre) – L2 Show Jumping, not placed but a wonderful achievement. Our first competitor ever in this class and on a horse she had only ridden once prior to the day of the class!

Sophia Aitken & Marshall – Introduction to Dressage walk – 3rd place out of a huge class of 33 junior riders. This was Sophia’s first time competing at Nationals. She was expertly led for her class by Julia.

Natalie Anderson & Jimbob – TVI walk – 1st in Junior section. Natalie was aided by a team of talking letters who put on a rosette-winning performance too. There was a fantastic atmosphere in the arena while Natalie’s test was going on.

Alfie Brew-Lee & Jimbob – Grade 7 walk – 5th place in a very tightly contested class. It was wonderful to see Alfie ride at Nationals in person after his class was cancelled last year due to the heatwave.

Megan Marriott &  Lisa – Grade 7 walk & trot – 8th place in one of the largest and closest scored classes of the weekend – a very impressive achievement, especially as this was Lisa’s very first RDA competition.

Tara Aitken & Bean (borrowed with great thanks from the Townsend family) – unplaced in a huge Grade 6 walk class (but a fantastic test all the same, especially outdoors in strong winds) and 2nd place in the Grade 6 walk freestyle, riding to some great tunes mixed by Darren Woodlow. Tara and Sophia were the first mother and daughter duo we have ever qualified for the championships, and it was wonderful to see them supporting each other.

Frankie Townsend, our independent rider who competes on her own ponies, brought home an impressive 1st place in both the Grade 6 walk/trot grade test and freestyle (in the Open section, where she was competing against adults) on Bean, and also 6th place in her first ever showing class on her other pony, Aurora. Frankie’s family offered a lot of support to the rest of the group during the weekend, which really added to the fantastic team atmosphere and was so appreciated.

We also achieved 4th place in our first ever entry to the costume freestyle class, featuring Sophia as Cruella DeVil and not quite 101 volunteers and coaches as the Dalmatians she was trying to catch (not forgetting Becci as Henchman Horace the Dogcatcher – complete with ominous moustache). The judges offered some flattering reviews of our acting and storytelling skills!

It really is a huge team effort both home and away to bring any number of riders and horses to an event of this scale, so huge thanks are owed to the staff and volunteers who put in so much time on preparation, packing, transport, training, and care of the horses (and people!) over the weekend. Team Abingdon have been attending RDA Nationals since its inception and it’s wonderful that we are still able to offer riders and other members of our group such an exciting and fulfilling opportunity.  Now – what’s next?