Welcome to Cambs College RDA!

Hello and welcome to Cambridgeshire College Group of the Riding for the Disabled Association.

We hope you enjoy having a browse through our website and learning more about the group.

Please scroll down to find the latest news!

British Vaulting Championships 2019

Congratulations to our para vaulter, Lizzie Bennett, who competed at the British Equestrian Vaulting (BEV) Championships last weekend at Bishop Burton College. She was representing not only RDA but also Contessa Vaulting Group, where she coaches both able-bodied and para vaulters. She had entered the sole Para class offered at this level: Pre-Novice Canter/Walk.
Freestyle moves demonstrating balance/strength
Lizzie qualified for the event in joint-top position nationally with the maximum qualification score by winning two competitions earlier in the year: a national competition at Talygarn Equestrian Centre (Wales), and the English Championships in Rugby.

She was competing on Briardale Lothario (aka Rio), an eleven-year-old skewbald gelding who is owned by Reivers Vaulting Group from Scotland, lunged by Stacey MacPherson. Rio is relatively new to vaulting but has already competed internationally and is developing the 'vault-ability' of his canter. Lizzie met him for the first time on the first day of competition and had only one brief opportunity to try her routines before showing them off to the judges!
Two of the compulsory moves: Basic seat and Bench.
The first routine, on Saturday 12th, was the canter compulsories, and was followed later the same day by the walk freestyle. Lizzie brought out her 'Aladdin' freestyle again, with a routine to an arrangement she made of the song 'One Jump Ahead' from the Disney film. The scores from the compulsories and freestyle routines were averaged to give a Round 1 score.
Freestyle moves demonstrating flexibility
Round 2 took place on Sunday 13th and consisted solely of a repeat of the walk freestyle. Following a messy mount on the first day, Lizzie was pleased to improve the mount but disappointed to fall on the dismount - something which had never been a problem in previous competitions!
The dismount on the day it went well!
Although she was a bit disappointed with her performances Lizzie still did well to vault on a completely unknown horse at this level and has retained the title of British Para Vaulting Champion for a fourth consecutive year.

We were also delighted that Cambs College RDA volunteer, Isabelle Holgate, was competing in the 1* individual and 1* Pas de Deux events. Along with her training partner, Sheri-Anne Smith, Isabelle came 1st in the Pas de Deux competition! Isabelle has recently started studying veterinary nursing at Hartpury College (having been impressed by the facilities whilst volunteering at the RDA Championships) but we hope she will return to RDA when her studies (and vaulting competitions!) allow.
Isabelle (in blue) and Sheri-Anne, also with an Aladdin theme for their freestyle. Isabelle is the Genie!
Many thanks to Becca Hewit, Stacey Macpherson, Anna-Marie MacPherson and Rio for all their help and support over the weekend.
Rio was very interested in the rosette!

English Vaulting Championships 2019

On Saturday 14th September Lizzie Bennett represented Contessa Vaulting Group in the English Vaulting Championships at Onley Grounds Equestrian Centre, Rugby.
She was vaulting in the Para Canter/Walk class on Great Bear, owned by Perry RDA Group and lunged by Sam Davison. Following canter compulsories in the morning, she performed her walk freestyle in the afternoon to an arrangement of the song, 'One Jump Ahead', from Disney's Aladdin.
Lizzie was also present in her capacity as a coach of four young vaulters competing as two sets of pairs in the able-bodied Walk Pas de Deux class. The pairs finished in fifth and sixth position overall (which included Welsh competitors), but third and fourth position in the English standings. 

Lizzie won her class, which is the highest Para level, to become English Para Vaulting Champion for the fourth consecutive year. She has now qualified for the British Vaulting Championships which will be held at Bishop Burton (near Beverley) in October.

SEIB Search for a Star RDA Showing Championships 2019

We are very proud of Eleanor Currington and Drunkeen Boy (Boysie) who recently won the RDA SEIB Search for a Star final at Addington Manor.
The pair qualified for the final after taking part in the showing competition at the RDA National Championships at Hartpury in July, where they also came 1st in Level 3 Showjumping and 3rd in the Grade 3 Dressage. They even appeared on BBC Countryfile!

Last week they took part in the final which has been held at the BSHA National Championships since 2017. Horses and riders must walk and trot as a group before presenting an individual show, which can include canter, and talking to the judges. Both horse and rider must be immaculately turned out and, as you can see in the photo below, Gillian did a brilliant job of preparing Boysie so he looked his best.
At Cambs College RDA we've always known that our beloved Boysie (Drunkeen Boy) is a star - but it's always nice to have official recognition of the fact!

You can read more about the competition here

Summer Successes (Dressage and Vaulting)

Although the Group does not meet to ride over the summer, there have nonetheless been some competitive successes!

British Dressage
Eleanor Currington rode Drunkeen Boy (Boysie) in the Bronze Grade 3 Para class at Essendon and Epping Forest Dressage Group (EEFDG) in August. Eleanor won the class with a fantastic score of 71.11%.
 In the same event Olivia Cornick rode Ronaldo in the Gold Grade 3 Para classes, riding the Team and Individual tests. She achieved 72.65% to take the win in the Individual test, and 70.00% for second place in the Team test.

Huge congratulations to both riders!

We also had two riders competing at the BD RDA Intellectual Disability Championships - please click here to read more.

Olivia also rode Ronaldo for her first international competition at the Bishop Burton CPEDI* in August. With an average score of 67.511% across the Individual, Team and Freestyle classes it was a superb performance.

Olivia and Ronaldo have now been selected for the Keysoe CPEDI** in October - we wish them lots of luck!

British Equestrian Vaulting
Lizzie Bennett travelled to Wales for the Talygarn EC BEV competition at the beginning of August. She was vaulting on a borrowed horse (whom she met for the first time that day) called Celt, owned by Eryri Vaulting Group.

Lizzie led the Para Canter/Walk class from the first round despite a disappointing compulsories score then extended the lead with a freestyle which scored 7.095. She finished on 6.304, comfortably ahead of the second-placed vaulter.
Lizzie and Celt, lunged by Andrew Williamson
Lizzie's next competition is the English Vaulting Championships on the 14th of September, where she hopes to complete her qualification for October's British Vaulting Championships.

Fantastic fundraising by Sharon!

Congratulations and many thanks to our wonderful volunteer, Sharon Butler, who has raised a phenomenal £910 for the Group! Here's how...

"Most of you that know me have never seen me with short hair! I love my long hair, but I have decided to help two charities by getting it cut off!
I am cutting my hair short as I will be donating it to Little Princess Trust. They provide free real hair wigs to children and young people, who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment or other conditions.

Most of you also don't know that I volunteer for a local Riding for the Disabled group called Cambs College RDA. They are in desperate need for some more horses and are struggling at the moment with 3 amazing horses that have to be ridden several times each session by different disabled riders. The riders that I support every week are an amazing bunch of young adults that inspire me and recently competed at the RDA National Championships resulting with 3 National champions in our group!"
This is a wonderful sum of money and we're incredibly grateful to Sharon for all of her efforts - it's no mean feat to raise such a huge sum and it will all go to very good us. Thank you, Sharon!

British Dressage & RDA Intellectual Disability Championships

The Group is very proud to have had three of its riders invited to the BD RDA Intellectual Disability Dressage Championships - one in each class! They were:
  • Jodie Williamson (Walk)
  • Emily Lodge (Walk and Trot) 
  • Chris Bradley (Walk, Trot and Canter)
This event is run as part of the British Dressage Para Summer Championships. Riders are invited based on their performance in the RDA Regional Qualifier shows across the country. It is a real honour to be invited to compete so we are extremely proud of all three riders. 

Jodie and Boysie getting some last tips from Gillian

Unfortunately Emily was not able to attend the show, but Jodie and Chris both made the way to Solihull to represent Cambs College RDA. Jodie rode Drunkeen Boy (Boysie), who had made the journey to Solihull with Gillian and Helen, whilst Chris rode his own horse, Quintus.

Jodie rode first and set the bar very high with an amazing score of 72.22%. This saw her win second place, less than 1% behind the first placed rider - an incredible achievement!
Jodie (second in from the left) and fellow prizewinners
Chris also rode very well, scoring 65.52% in the tricky canter test, and finishing tenth.

Many thanks to Helen, Gillian and all our volunteers who helped out on the day and to prepare the riders and horses, and huge congratulations to Emily, Chris and Jodie.
Chris on the far left

National Championships 2019

Well done to all our riders who competed at the RDA National Championships at Hartpury (July 12 -14).  We had 11 riders there this year (it should have been 12 but poor Chloe dislocated her shoulder the day before the competition started), and they all put in good performances.  We ended up with three National Champions (Olivia and Eleanor in dressage and Lizzie in vaulting), a heap impressive placings and, most important, we all had a good time.

It was particularly good to have four riders and a volunteer competing in the East Region vaulting team this year, and I congratulate Lizzie Bennett on training the team and putting together such an entertaining programme (and thank you Kate Lawrence for making the costumes), which was great fun and much enjoyed by the spectators.  Well done East Region team for their second place, and well Lizzie for winning your individual class.  

Olivia Cornick claimed the Grade 4 dressage championship on a borrowed horse (Brandy) which was well deserved.  Eleanor Currington’s show jumping win in the Level 3 competition was also a terrific result, gained through sheer determination as much as riding skill (especially at the last fence!).  

There were lots of good results, and even those who didn’t win a rosette did a great job. Many thanks and congratulations, too, to all our wonderful helpers and horses.

Full results are available on the RDA website here. More photos and a fuller report to follow!

RDA High Performance Coach of the Year

We are very excited to announce that Gillian Newsum - who is one of our coaches and also our Group Chairman - has been recognised by RDA National for her fantastic work by being awarded the title of RDA National High Performance Coach of the Year.

Gillian not only runs the entire Group but also coaches riders each week, prepares them in dressage and showjumping, hosts fundraising events, and takes horses and riders to events across the country including the RDA National Championships, Para Dressage training camps, and the Para Dressage Home International Championships.
Gillian watching as Chloe prepares to compete in her first RDA National Championships
Not only is her commitment to the Group quite extraordinary, but her ability to get the best out of all the RDA horses and riders is second to none. This is reflected in the fact that 13 of our 18 regular riders qualified to compete at the RDA National Championships this year - a proportion which we don't think any other RDA Group in the country can match!

We are very lucky to have her. She is truly indefatigable, and we are so incredibly grateful for all that she does.

RDA National Championships 2018

Earlier in July the Group made the long trip to Hartpury College in Gloucestershire for the RDA National Championships. This year we had thirteen riders who had qualified to compete, out of our eighteen regular riders. Boysie (Drunkeen Boy) and Danny were the trusty steeds of the weekend, with Chris and Olivia taking their own Quintus and Uma. Horses, coaches and other volunteers rose to the occasion and the Group secured some brilliant results. Read on to find out more!
Our volunteers always do fantastic work. Here are Helen and Laurie dashing off to their next job!
  • RDA Level 2 - Chloe 12th Junior; Shani 10th Senior (both on Boysie)
  • RDA Level 3 - Eleanor 5th (Boysie)
  • RDA Level 4 - Lizzie 3rd (Danny) and Chris 4th (Quintus)

  • Eleanor 6th (Boysie) and Chris 7th (Quintus)
  • both have qualified for the RDA SEIB Search for a Star final!

Mick George Ltd Bag of Gold winners!

We are delighted to share the news that Cambs College RDA has won the 'Bag of Gold' competition run by Mick George skips. The prize of £1000 will make a huge difference to the Group - it will go a long way towards buying new horses to replace our older equines who will soon have to retire.
Cambs College was just one of over 100 local charities to be nominated, 24 of which were put forward to the public vote. We were announced winners after securing the highest number of votes - thank you so much to everyone who voted for us!

We must also thank Kate Lawrence, whose daughter Kodie is a member of Cambs College RDA. Kate was the driving force behind nominating the Group so we couldn't have done it without her!
Kodie and a very cheerful Danny!
Gillian Newsum, Group Chairman, said, "Our lessons provide riders with many benefits. As well as physical and mental improvements, they gain a sense of achievement, a rapport with horses and they enjoy the company and support of their fellow riders. In many cases our group is the focal point for young, disabled school-leavers who can find it difficult to adjust to life after school. This year, 13 of our riders, out of group of 18 regular participants, have qualified for the RDA National Championships. We also have two riders working at para level, one of whom was selected to represent the East Region at the Para Home International competition in April – a huge achievement and a wonderful experience."

Three riders invited to British Dressage Championship event

We are very excited to announce that three of our riders have been selected for the inaugural RDA Intellectual Disability Dressage Championships in association with British Dressage.

Jodie Williamson, Chloe Soanes, and Chris Bradley have all been invited on the basis of their excellent performances at this year's regional qualifier, where each of them finished in first place in their dressage classes.
Some final checks for Chris and his horse, Quintus
Three levels of tests will be on offer: walk only, walk and trot, and walk/trot/canter; these will be contested by Jodie, Chloe and Chris respectively alongside around 60 other RDA riders from across the country.

It will be the first time that riders with an intellectual disability have been able to compete at this level within British Dressage.

The event will take place on 1 September at Solihull Riding Club and we wish Jodie, Chloe and Chris the very best of luck!

East Region Show and Qualifier 2018

On Sunday 20th May the Cambs College Group hosted the East Region's annual show, which stands alone but also acts as the qualifier for the RDA National Championships, which this year will be held from 13th-15th July at Hartpury College.
Eleanor and Lizzie having a quick 'run through' of their next dressage test before swapping horses...
The Group had riders competing in dressage and countryside challenge, as well as having already completed video entries in showjumping and musical rides. There must also be a special mention for Jodie Williamson, who astonished the judges of the Stable Management Quiz with her flawless knowledge - they couldn't find anything she didn't know the answer to!