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ID riders make their mark on BD

History was made on Saturday 1 September in a small corner of the West Midlands when the first Championships for riders with an Intellectual Disability were held in conjunction with the Riding for the Disabled under the BD umbrella.

Held at and organised by Solihull Riding Club and run alongside the BD Equissage Pulse Summer Para Festival, the championships were held at three levels and riders were invited to take part following their strong results earlier in the year at the RDA regional qualifiers.

A total of 26 riders came forward for the inaugural show under the watchful eyes of para judges Christine Porterfield and Wendy Bell.

The walk test got the proceedings underway and it was the first rider down the centreline who went on to lead from start to finish. That rider was young Ellis Holdaway riding the magnificent Charlie from the Wenlo RDA group. Their score of 69.16% just couldn’t be bettered but his Wenlo group chum Jonathan Rigby, who also partnered Charlie, came closest with 68.19%, another cracking score. Just behind was Katie Marsden who posted a 64.58% riding Alice.

Lee Lawrence was the victor in the walk trot test with Whisper with a healthy 66.12% just ahead of runners up Jessica White and Truffles. Ellis and Charlie made a second appearance on the podium in third with 64.5%.

Competition was extra fierce in the largest and final class, walk, trot and canter. The winner’s sash went to convincing winners Kayla Pratt and her handsome piebald Hunky Dory with a fabulous 70% score – the only duo to break the magic barrier. Morgan Haines was second on Scout 63.42% and just a whisker behind was Kasia Dudek-McGee who scored 63.28% with Rio.

Every rider who competed was invited to take part in the prizegiving to celebrate a magical day and they were treated to a meeting with triple European gold medallist Julie Payne – complete with her medals. Julie took time with the riders for a chat, advice and plenty of photos afterwards.

Para dressage and showjumping rider Matt Dalley was enlisted by BD and the RDA to act as ambassador for the championships to help spread the word – which he did with his own amazing style – and was also a competitor with his horse Wimbledon III. Hot on the heels of a victory in showjumping the day before, Matt and ‘Womble’ then went on to finish sixth. He took to Facebook to say: “It was amazing to be a part of the first ID Dressage Championship at the BD Para Summer Championships last weekend. RDA and BD organised this together and I was proud to be a part of that team as RDA Ambassador, helping with publicity for the event.” This was the first inaugural RDA and ID championships. It was a great way to integrate the RDA riders and the Para riders.”

British Dressage interim Para Director Julie Frizzell summed up the amazing day in saying; “I simply could not be prouder of the team I’ve been part of this weekend. World firsts, gallons of happy tears, recognising our wonderful families and support teams that enable us to do what we do. And of course, our equine partners. Thanks to everyone who has played a part in making it happen; it was a dream which we’ve worked hard to bring to reality. There’s much to build on for next year and beyond but what a dream beginning.”

Podium places:

RDA walk test
1. Ellis Holdway with Charlie 69.16%
2. Jonathan Rigby with Charlie 68.19%
3. Katie Marsden with Alice 64.58%

RDA walk and trot
1. Lee Lawrence with Whisper 66.12%
2. Jessica White with Truffles 65.87%
3. Ellis Holdway with Charlie 64.5%

RDA walk, trot and canter
1. Kayla Pratt with Hunky Dory 70%
2. Morgan Haines with Scout 63.42%
3. Kasia Dudek-McGee with Rio 63.28%