I hope everyone had a good Christmas Holiday and has returned to RDA activity in good health and full of energy and enthusiasm for another busy session. We certainly managed to fit in an enormous amount over the Autumn with four Regional Training Sessions held at various locations spread over seven days aimed at Coaches, Safeguarding Officers, Show Jumping Coaches, County Coaches and Training Advisers. Many thanks to Jane Barker, Lynne Munro, Claire Millican, Mike Butcher, Anona White and Fiona Harris who travelled from the UK to deliver these sessions for us. We all learned a huge amount and hopefully our groups are feeling the benefit now.
Groups have also been working hard to complete their registration with the Northern Irish Charity Commission. This essential bit of form filling has taken up a lot of time and effort, however we now have 21 Groups who have completed the task and hopefully the remainder will soon be joining them. Computer skills (including my own) have been tested to the limit so congratulations to you all!
We are fortunate to have recruited Philip White to our ranks as Regional Equine Advisor. I hope that Groups will feel free to consult him on all matters to do with horses and their welfare. Other recent appointments include Toni Alouane and Christine Hankin (County Coaches) and Marina Kidney as County Chairman for Fermanagh & Tyrone. We wish them all well in their new roles.
Congratulations are also due to Loraine Mannix as Northern Ireland’s most recent recipient of the prestigious President’s Award. Her many years of service to her own group and the Region have not gone unrecognised and I hope we will continue to benefit from her wisdom and experience for many years to come.
Looking forwards, the first event in the Spring Calendar will be the Regional Show Jumping Competition, qualifier for the Championships at Hartpury in July which will take place at Laurel View Equestrian Centre on Wednesday 16th March. The new venue will allow us to have both the Warm Up and Competition indoors which will be safer (and warmer).
We then look forward to our North/South Conference in Armagh on 19th-20th April. We have lots of interesting speakers lined up and hopefully as many members and riders as possible will attend and make our fellow Southern volunteers welcome.
This will be followed by the Regional Championships at Danescroft on 18th May, don’t forget the Arts and Crafts Competition even if you cant manage the Dressage or Countryside Challenge.
Also in the pipeline are two Summer Days Out, Endurance and Carriage Driving Events, a show at the Meadows, and of course our regular weekly rides.
Happy riding to all and I hope to visit as many groups as I can before the summer break,
Regional Chairman RDA NI
(Riding For The Disabled Association, Northern Ireland)