For may people, Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) means lead-rein lessons on dobbin ponies. WRONG!
Ok - RDA does offer many people the therapeutic side of horse riding, and for these riders this opportunity is an invaluable aid towards improving the quality of their lives.
However, there is a wealth of extremely talented riders from all over the world who compete in RDA dressage competitions and you only have to attend one of these events to see for yourself that the talent is awesome. What is more, not only do these riders have talent, they are tremendously competitive as they have burning ambitions to win.
All too often I have witnessed a patronising smile from horse people who compete in what they like to see as being the "top level" of mainstream competitions. It is realised that we all have different perceptions of success, but lets face it - men and women do not run in the same race on the running track! So does that mean that men's races are superior to women because they achieve faster track records? Not only would this be insulting to women athletes, but downright unlawful. Likewise, I strongly suggest that disabled sportspeople are given the credibility that they rightfully deserve.
Many disabled riders - Felicity Coulthard included, enter mainstream competitions to pit their riding skills against able-bodied competitors. How sad it is that interest in disabled competition is not generally repaid. You may not realise that in bygone times that the jockey who rode the best horse was made to carry his cap in his hand throughout the duration of the race in order to give him a "handicap". Therefore, this must surely suggest that RDA members are amongst some of the best riders in the world!