New RDA showing class proves a hit!
Para-dressage rider Kathryn Wheelock went to SEIB’s first ever RDA Search for a Star class on a fact-finding mission with her mother Jan — and ended up winning this inaugural qualifier.
Kathryn, 42, was riding Westpoint First of Many, a British warmblood by Fulton, whom she describes as “very loving, easy-going and laid-back”. “You really could do anything with him — it would never occur to him to do anything nasty,” added Kathryn, who has cerebral palsy and learning difficulties. This means she has poor short-term memory so she finds dressage suits her because her mother can call the tests. Showing is harder, though the fact that this new series allows the riders to do their own show, rather than a set one, is an advantage.
Jan Wheelock is county chairman of the Otley & District RDA Group and was going to Osbaldeston, in Lancashire, for the first qualifier to have a look. Having decided that Kathryn should enter, they had to scramble together some showing kit. The effort proved worthwhile when Kathryn was called forward to head the line and go through to the final, to be held during the evening performance at the British Show Horse Association National Championship show at Addington Manor in September. It should be a walk in the park for Westpoint First of Many — known as Mr Fly — as he competes at medium level dressage with Kathryn’s older sister Alison.
Runner-up to Kathryn, and also qualifying for the final, was Kayla Pratt with Hunky Dory. Kayla, 15, started with RDA at the age of six — but had only been riding Dory for a week before the qualifier. Her usual partner, Zeus, is unsound so she and her mother Sandy came to Osbaldeston EC with no expectations. “We really were just going with the flow and supporting the team,” said Sandy, part of the contingent representing Stokesley RDA Group and Robinson Equi Teach.
Dory, a smart seven-year-old coloured native type, went sweetly for his rider, as did all the exhibits in this small but quality-filled class. Kayla, who has educational special needs, was delighted with how well he went. “He responds much better to voice commands than to the aids,” noted this self-confessed “horse addict”. “Horses will always have at least half of my heart.”
The five very different types in this qualifier captured the hearts of the audience when they stood rock-steady for several minutes while the judges cogitated over their selection. “How many bowler hats does it take to decide on a winner?” wondered one ringsider. The answer, apparently, was four, as judges David Bartram, Richard Ramsay, David Ingle and steward John Foster conferred. The marks for this innovative class were divided into 30% for conformation, 30% for turnout and 40% for suitability, manners and way of going. “We had 10 forward for the demonstration day at last year’s RDA National Championships,” said David Bartram. “There were only five forward here, but they were all excellent and this competition is going to get better. Some of the riding and the individual shows in this class were better than in the open sections.