High standards set at the Search for a Star Riding for the Disabled Championship at Hartpury College

The first Riding for the Disabled (RDA) Search for a Star showing competition since 2019 was held at the RDA National Championships at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire on Friday 15th July. The Search for a Star RDA championship had been running for several years prior to Covid and competitors, judges and organisers were delighted to see such a high standard in the first running of the event for three years.

RDA Search for a Star champions 2022

RDA centres from across the country were represented in the Search for a Star competition with competitors travelling from as far as Devon (Erme Valley RDA), Middlesborough (Tyne and Wear RDA) and Cambridgeshire (Cambridgeshire College RDA).

Search for a Star Riding for the Disabled is undertaken in a low-key manner to ensure all competitors are able to enjoy performing in this showing class. The go-round is performed in walk and in their individual shows competitors are encouraged to show off their horses or ponies as suits them. Search for a Star RDA judge, Katie Jerram-Hunnable who has judged the competition for many years explained: “In this class, we look for a very mannerly horse or pony that is straightforward for the rider. The horse or pony must enjoy the job, conformation of course comes into it, but the manners and suitability are crucial.” Mr Richard Ramsay judged alongside Katie and Chris Jerram-Hunnable fulfilled the essential role of stewarding the horses and riders to and from the arena and clearly explaining the procedure whilst in the ring.

Four champions were presented with green, gold and white sashes, a plaque, rosettes and advice from the judges. The overall champion title went to Tara Redfern and My Last Bob, owned by Dawn Whitmore from the Wenlo RDA group. Kirsty Mabin’s lovely skewbald, Doylan Bodacious Gift from Erme Valley RDA was judged the best pony and they won the class. Chris Bradley and his own, MBF Harley Rebel took the best rider title for Cambridgeshire College RDA and Catriona McCartney and Axholme Thor took the championship for best combination for the Avon RDA Group.

Tara Redfern and My Last Bob

Overall champion Tara Redfern was simply delighted with how the afternoon went. She said: “I’ve only been riding Bob for five or six weeks. I’ve never been to the RDA Championships before, it is great to get this experience and its very kind of Dawn, Bob’s owner to say we should have a go!” Tara has been a carriage driving volunteer at Wenlo RDA and Carriage Driving Group, she continued: “I enjoy going every Tuesday to do jobs around the yard and to help with the driving. I am hopefully going to go to some driving competitions with the group in the future too.” Tara was also competing in dressage and freestyle dressage at the championship.

Kirsty Mabin and Doyla Bodacious Gift 1st and best pony

Kirsty Mabin, best horse or pony champion with Erme Valley RDA’s Doylan Bodacious Gift has also competed in RDA Search for a Star before with placings in 2018 and in virtual Search for a Star during lockdown. Kirsty said: “He is just great. I really enjoyed the class.” In 2019 Kirsty was diagnosed with scoliosis and had to spend two years with no riding. This was her first competition back. Kirsty’s father explained: “Kirsty has been back riding for the last six months. The tea at Erme Valley are just great, Peggy Douglas who is in charge at the yard has organised for 6 horses and ponies to come to the championship with a total of fourteen riders.” Sixteen-year-old Kirsty is a pupil at Coombe Pafford school in Torquay.

Chris Bradley and MBF Harley Rebel best rider

Chris Bradley won the best rider title in Search for a Star at Hartpury. This is not the first time Chris has done well in RDA Search for a Star, he was placed in 2019 with Quintus. Chris who has also evented and competed in dressage said: “I just knew that Harley was the horse for me when I sat on him. I’m so pleased with him, maybe we will do more Search for a Star classes. He jumps too and we are planning to start practicing for the special Olympics.” Chris has had a tough time, his mother explained: “Quintus very sadly got a tumour and died. Chris thought he might not get another one at one point. We started looking and sat on loads of horses before finding Harley. We’ve only had him since the end of April.”

Catriona McCartney Kitson and Axholme Thor

The best combination winner, Catriona McCartney Kitson was delighted with her five-year-old, Axholme Thor. She said of the throroughbred x Oldenburg gelding: “He was backed when I bought him eighteen months ago, I have brought him on and we have competed in dressage and jumping. This was our first showing class together.” Catriona competes as an independent participant for the Avon RDA group. She continued: “I am hoping that we can go and do some eventing. It will be a big leap for us. I had a head injury in a riding accident which left me with a disability. I never thought I would be able to think about jumping again.”

Marketing Manager at SEIB, Nicolina MacKenzie said: “We have run Search for a Star RDA for many years now and every time we are so impressed with the lovely horses and riders that come forward. Our judges are pleased to be able to offer help and encouragement all of which is appreciated – we are all very grateful for our busy judges and steward making the time to come along. Thank you to the RDA championships team for making us feel so welcome, we will look forward to coming back next year.”

Leading equine Insurance brokers, SEIB Insurance Brokers set up Search for a Star over 20 years ago so they could offer a unique competition opportunity to many of their amateur rider customers. SEIB has a long association with the showing world and is renowned for ‘putting something back’ by supporting many equestrian events and activities in addition to Search for a Star.

For all Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse information and to enter, please see www.seib.co.uk/competitions.

Results SEIB Search for a Star RDA Championship 2022

Best Overall Champion – Tara Redfern and My Last Bob for Wenlo RDA and Carriage Driving Group

Best Horse or Pony – Kirsty Mabin and Doylan Bodacious Gift for Erme Valley RDA Group

Best Rider – Chris Bradley and MBF Harley Rebel for Cambridgeshire College RDA Group

Best Combination – Catriona McCartney Kitson and Axholme Thor for Avon RDA Group