RDA was proud to showcase how its work has evolved over the past 50 years in a special parade held at their National Championships on 12 July.

From day one back in 1969, RDA has been enriching people’s lives through horses and over this time it has developed to provide involvement in many different equine activities.

The championships celebrated their own 25th anniversary and the parade was a chance to celebrate everything that makes RDA great, from the opportunities it provides, through to the volunteers and horses that make it possible.

Here we take a look at some of the activities and disciplines that were represented.

Showjumping – this was introduced as a new discipline to RDA in 2012 and there are now 150 Groups with 500 qualified coaches approved to deliver showjumping and 2000 participants now enjoying the sport.

RDA Dressage – more riders are competing in RDA Dressage than ever before with 380 tests having taken place at the National Championships.

Costume Freestyle – this fun and enjoyable dressage event was introduced four years ago and is a particular speciality with Penniwells RDA.

Participants choose a theme and perform their test in full costume to accompanying music.

Showing – RDA first introduced showing as a demonstration in 2017 with the SEIB Search for a Star and has since been introduced as a separate activity.

Endurance – a hugely popular activity at RDA, with levels to suit all abilities and riding environments. Rides begin at 1km and work all the way up through to 5km and beyond.

Endurance also uniquely incorporates how to get your equine fit and how to check and care for them before and after a ride.

Countryside Challenge – with its focus on achievement and enjoyment, the Countryside Challenge is the development of skills acquired in grassroot sessions, dressage, showjumping, endurance and of course fun.

It was first introduced 18 years ago – Paralympic Gold Medallist, Natasha Baker started her competition journey by winning the Countryside Challenge.

Vaulting – there are currently 17 RDA vaulting groups across the UK since it began as an activity in 2011. Vaulting can attract a range of participants and is a great way of keeping fit and flexible as well as improving co-ordination.

It is a team sport and provides its participants with not only physical benefits but also social skills such as working together and communication.

Carriage Driving – one of the most important elements of RDA since 1975, carriage driving now has around 65 RDA Groups providing opportunities for over 1000 drivers. It is particularly popular with those that can’t ride or prefer a different challenge.

Horse Care & Knowledge – always popular at the National Championships, the Horse Care & Knowledge classroom gives RDA riders and drivers the chance to show off all they have learned about our RDA horses, how we feed and take care of them and the equipment and tack we use to keep them healthy, happy and safe.

Educational Awards – the Education Programme offers fantastic opportunities for recognising and celebrating achievement, at all levels.

With certificates and badges available to all RDA Groups, and a huge range of activities, from Proficiency Tests and ASDAN to Endeavour Awards and Creative Writing, there has never been a better time to support and reward participants’ learning goals.

Arts & Crafts – Forming part of the Championships, the annual Arts & Crafts competition is always an incredibly popular event.

The competition provides a great opportunity for riders, vaulters and carriage drivers of all ages to express themselves through art.

Celebrating volunteers

The parade also recognised the contributions of the charity’s many volunteers, horses and ponies that are the bedrock of everything RDA do, as well as the Equine team who exist to support all horses and ponies during their time with RDA, from purchase or loan through everyday use, until the end of their service.

Coaches working within RDA were highlighted, whether that be as a volunteer, helper, an existing coach or someone with ambition to become a coach, as was RDA Holidays which can really help to build confidence and make friendships and memories that can last a lifetime as well as being a great deal of fun.

To end the parade each of RDA’s 18 regions was represented featuring a participant that had been nominated for the honour, telling their own personal story about why RDA was special to them.

Throughout the day the team from BBC 1’s Countryfile were filming for a special broadcast which will be aired on Sunday, July 28.

Don’t miss the latest issue of Your Horse Magazine, jam-packed with training and veterinary advice, horse-care tips and the latest equestrian products available on shop shelves, on sale now.