The much anticipated SEIB Search for a Star Riding for the Disabled (RDA) Championship final took place on the 12th September at the British Show Horse Association Hunter Championship Show at Addington.
The title went to Drunkeen Boy, ridden by Eleanor Currington (pictured left, photo courtesy of Nico Morgan) and owned by the Cambs College RDA Group. The judges, David Ingle, Lynn Russell and Rosemary King were unanimous in deciding upon the winner.
The Search for a Star RDA championship offers competitors a unique opportunity to have a showing championship with an evening performance, at a championship show alongside non-disabled competitors. Showing opportunities for RDA competitors are few and far between and recognition of the Search for a Star RDA championship, now in its third year, is growing hugely. The Search for a Star competition is also very inclusive as RDA rules differ from para competitions and riders with both physical limitations and mental difficulties are permitted and encouraged to take part.
Sarah Hadley of the RDA said: “This championship gives our riders a real day to remember. Competing in the glamour of the evening performance at the BSHA championships is a truly unique experience for our finalists. Thanks to SEIB, not just for supporting this competition but for everything they are doing to promote Showing for RDA. We are also grateful to BSHA for allowing this class to be held at the Championships and to Addington Manor for hosting.”
The new Search for a Star RDA champions, Eleanor Currington and Drunkeen Boy gave a great performance to take the win. Eleanor said: “That was brilliant, I would definitely like to do some more showing! He is such a gentle and easy-going horse and he also really likes to stand in his stable eating.” Judge, Lynne Russell said: “I liked our winner from the moment he came in the ring. He wouldn’t look out of place in an open class and he was well ridden.”
The Cambridge College RDA own Boyce, as Drunkeen Boy is known at home. The group is headed by Gillian Newsum who explained: “We would never be able to raise enough money to cover the horses’ keep so we operate through the College of West Anglia who pay for the livery so the horses are used by the college students and the RDA riders have one day a week with them.” Gillian found Boyce in a yard in Oakham just over 6 years ago.
In this time Eleanor has ridden him once a week in term-time and the pair also enjoyed success at the Hartpury RDA Championship show earlier this season in the showjumping classes. Eleanor is a Grade 3 rider and had won a place to study at Oxford when she had a stroke at just 19-years-old. Eleanor added: “As well as riding, I also do a lot of swimming and compete in athletics.”
Drunkeen Boy missed the 2018 season with a liver problem. Gillian said: “We are lucky he is still with us. He became ill last year and went downhill fast before making a recovery. It is great to see him raring to go again now. Boyce teaches a lot of people to ride and he is a genuinely nice person and so good at everything.”
In runner up spot in the Search for a Star RDA Championship was Anne Hollier riding Joanne Alderton’s dressage horse, The Scout. From Kingstone in Herefordshire, Anne is a member of the Ride 2 Achieve RDA group. Anne competed in Search for a Star with her horse, Simply Quickly back when the series first began and having sadly had a stroke in January this year, she was keen to take part in the Search for a Star RDA championship. Joanne said: “The Scout was drafted in at the last moment at the Search for a Star qualifier at the RDA National Championship as the horse that Anne was due to ride went lame – The Scout was Anne choice of ride!”
The 2018 Search for a Star champions, Tracy Steel and John Hackett’s big, dark bay gelding, Johan’s Debut, took third place. Tracy is a grade 4 rider and RDA coach with the Tyne and Wear RDA group at the Washington Riding Centre. In fourth was Fleur O’Donohue and Marley II. Fleur and Marley qualified for the Search for a Star championship in 2018 but weren’t able to compete so Fleur was determined to get to the championship this year. Fleur has also competed at the Special Olympics in skiing and athletics in addition to her riding activities.
Lynne Russell added: “I was delighted to be asked to judge this final and it is brilliant to be a part of raising awareness of the things that our RDA riders can achieve in showing. The evening performance provides a wonderful way to celebrate this.”
SEIB’s Marketing Manager Nicolina MacKenzie said: “SEIB is renowned for putting something back and I think we have really achieved this with the RDA Search for a Star. Our competition today went really smoothly and each of our finalists rode brilliantly. We are already looking forward to the series next year.”
The SEIB Search for a Star RDA competition requires competitors to ride around the ring together before lining up and performing an individual show. Any type of horse or pony is able to compete and the class will be judged 30% on conformation, 30% on turnout and 40% on suitability, manners and way of going, so giving a good individual show will be important to the overall result. Full rules for the competition are to be found on the Search for a Star website.
Leading equine Insurance brokers, SEIB Insurance Brokers provide cover for horses, horse boxes, yards and much more. The company has a long association with the showing world and is renowned for ‘putting something back’ by supporting many grassroots equestrian events and activities.
For insurance queries visit www.seib.co.uk or call 01708 850000.