Group News

These pages are used by the groups to showcase their work, promote events, highlight  rider and volunteer achievements and share information.  Click on one of the counties on the left for group news in that area.  All text and photographs may be sent to
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Gatcombe Display 2017

The RDA Groups in our Mid West Region have a fantastic opportunity every other year to participate in a display in the main arena at the Festival of British Eventing held in Gatcombe Park, the home of HRH The Princess Royal.

The display takes the form of a musical ride and this year we chose some Trad Jazz tracks suitable for a sunny day in early August. Unfortunately, after enjoying many lovely days in recent years, our luck ran out and the forecast for the 5th August featured not only very heavy rain but thunder and lightning as well!

We warned all our riders and helpers beforehand that ‘the show must go on’ so a total of 26 riders from seven Groups: Avon Riding Centre, Cotswold, Lyncombe Lodge, Patchwork, Saxon, Talland and Wellow arrived to represent our Region. The torrential rain arrived, accompanied by the promised thunder and lightning so everyone took shelter and hoped it would pass over before the time of our display.

Our Regional Chairman Lizzie Blair was asked by the Stewards if we wanted to withdraw.  With typical RDA ‘can do’ spirit we decided to wait and see if things would improve, since everyone had made such a huge effort to get there and at the last minute the rain stopped and we unloaded the horses, tacked up and mounted our riders in record time and made our way through heavy mud down to the collecting ring.

Anne Dunham OBE had hoped to lead the ride alongside Lucy Mae Bush from Wellow, but unfortunately Anne was unwell. However Lucy Mae did a great job on her own riding Fettle, who belongs to Venetia Kenny Herbert the North Somerset & Bristol County Chairman.

The sun came out and there was a huge audience to watch our display which we feel was one of our best performances – even if the horses and helpers had a little more mud on their legs than usual! Congratulations to all our riders, their families, the helpers and the horses for pulling together to make it such a success.

Unfortunately HRH The Princess Royal was unable to present the rosettes to each of the riders at the end of the display this year but we were extremely lucky that Sam Orde, the Chairman of RDA, had come to watch the display and was a brilliant substitute along with Ruth Baskett from Hamptons, a major sponsor of the Festival.

Ruth had also organised tea for our riders and helpers in the Hamptons marquee after the display, with a chance to meet the well known event rider, Harry Meade, who was competing there. Those who were able to stay for the tea were treated to some delicious food and Harry proved a great hit with everyone! We’d like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to Ruth and Hamptons for their generosity, including the Goody Bags which were very much appreciated.  

Practising in the rain!

Rain? What rain?!

Handing out rosettes.

Lucy Mae on Fettle

Local Para Dressage rider is placed in able-bodied competition
Grade V rider Lucy Mae Bush took out her new horse Parapower recently for their first competition and gained a respectable 4th place.  Lucy Mae started riding at the Wellow RDA group in the Mendips near Bath.

Para rider, Lucy Mae Bush, wins sponsorship deal. 

Lucy Mae Bush from Peasedown St John, Bath is one of three winners of a 2017 sponsorship deal from equine photographer Jo Hansford.

The sponsorship includes three mentoring sessions with Dressage rider Natasha Baker, MBE, who won three Golds at the Rio Paralympics, a photoshoot by Jo, branded horse goodies and ongoing support from Jo Hansford Photography during 2017.

Natasha’s aim is to help each of the three girls take their competitive riding to the next level. Lucy Mae, who is on the British Equestrian Programme’s entry scheme and is a Grade IV Para Dressage rider, says: “Talking to Natasha was really helpful and she gave me some great advice. We talked about how to plan training sessions and how to visualise my performance ahead of competing, but also how to cope if things change or don’t go to plan. She told me to keep a competition diary, to write down all results and also keep notes about good and bad points of each round so I can reflect and learn."

Lucy Mae, unlike lots of competitors, doesn’t suffer from nerves under pressure but has other challenges… “My issue is that I get too excited!” she says. "Natasha had advice on staying calm and in the moment, and how doing that will help my horse Power, too.”

Jo welcomes sponsorship applications from riders of all abilities and disciplines and if you would like to apply for her next programme, please email

Avon Dressage Day Friday 31st October 2014

What a brilliant time we had on Friday – the weather was so warm and sunny that we were able to set up the refreshments outdoors, allowing plenty of space for the riders and their families to relax and enjoy their day.

We had a total of forty competitors booked in to take part in five different Classes from a walk only test on the leading rein to the final Class for our most advanced riders with movements in walk, trot and canter.

The riders in this Class got a huge surprise when they realised that their judge was Clive Milkins, who has coached multi Gold Medal winning Paralympic rider Sophie Christiansen throughout her competitive career.

It was so good to be able to welcome riders from some of the other groups in our RDA Mid West Region, some from Lyncombe Lodge and Wellow as well as riders from Watershed and Tumpy Green who were competing here for the first time!

The atmosphere was excellent and everyone went away with smiles on their faces and rosettes in their hands, feeling a great sense of achievement and increased confidence after their success.

Well done to you all and we look forward to welcoming you back on February 21st 2015!







RDA Mid West Musical Ride at Gatcombe Horse Trials in August 2013

We are very fortunate in our region to be asked to put on a display in alternate years at the Festival of British Eventing held in Gatcombe Park.

There is great anticipation for days beforehand, during which the horses are bathed, trimmed and turned out immaculately.

This year a total of almost thirty children and adults took part representing ten of the thirty RDA Groups that are based in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bristol and North Somerset.
Our riders seldom get the opportunity to participate in such a special event and it is always an honour to be chosen to ride in front of HRH The Princess Royal, the President of the National Riding for the Disabled Association.

For some riders it was the first time that they had ridden anywhere other than in their regular RDA lessons and the change of surroundings was a challenge for both ponies and riders. Inevitably a few of the ponies did get a little over excited with the huge crowds and the loud Caribbean themed music, but all the riders were fine and everyone enjoyed the experience – especially meeting the Princess Royal at the end of the display when they were each given a rosette.

The crowds were very large this year, resulting in an excellent bucket collection that is shared between all participating groups.

A big thank you to everyone who took part in making this such a memorable day for our riders and roll on 2015!

Down the centre line

After the crossover

Jessica meeting Princess Anne

Regional Competition schedules and entry forms

Check the news feed on the home page for up to date information for the current year.

Supra-Regional Conference Autumn 2011

Congratulations and huge thanks go to Lizzie Blair  our Mid West chairman, who organised an excellent Supra-Regional Conference at the Hand Centre.  Lizzie had put together a varied programme which all appreciated.
Click here to see more detail.  It included:

Susie Elliott and Caroline Ward who talked about the power of publicity and PR. It was most exciting to hear that RDA has been chosen for the Daily Telegraph Christmas Appeal.

Ros Blackburn gave us a very remarkable insight into autism. All of our groups have people who suffer from this and we found it very helpful to hear about it first hand.

Gillian Higgins painted Lucy Dixon’s horse and showed us how the muscles and anatomy work .   Storee was very well behaved.

We wished Debbie Criddle well for next year as she heads for the Paralympics. She gave a wonderful display for us.


Regional and National awards to celebrate volunteering throughout RDA

Presented annually, these prestigious awards are to recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions in any capacity to RDA by volunteers during the previous year. For example, the contribution may be organisation of a special event, dedication, reliability, positive attitude or something else that the nominator may know about.

Anybody connected with RDA - riders, drivers, vaulters, parents, carers, teachers, volunteers and supporters – may submit nominations.

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