A pony who has helped disabled riders achieve their competitive ambitions for the past 19 years was the worthy recipient of the Dame Emma-Jane Brown Award at the RDA Gala Awards dinner at Plaisterers’ Hall in London earlier this month.

Millersford Forrester ridden by Natasha Baker

Natasha Baker on Millersford Forrester

Millersford Forrester, a New Forest pony from South Bucks RDA, has taken part in all levels of para-equestrianism during his long and illustrious career, from grass-roots riding through to international paralympic qualifers.

Among the numerous elite disabled riders who have started their serious competitive careers with him are Natasha Baker (pictured right and top alongside representatives of South Bucks RDA and awards presenter Clare Balding) and Ricky Balshaw.

The RDA Group said: “Forrester, who has achieved so much and gives pleasure to so many, deserves recognition for his extraordinary service to disabled riders. He is also an outstanding example of the temperament and versatility of the New Forest pony.”

The other pony to receive an award was Denby from Wenlo RDA, who won the RDA Horse or Pony of the Year award. This pony left behind his wayward ways and stepped up to the task when the group lost their previous pony Buckthorn.

Wenlo RDA representatives collect Denby's Horse or Pony of the Year award

Wenlo RDA representatives collect Denby’s Horse or Pony of the Year award

Since starting his new career, Denby has helped one rider to walk after being in a coma, and another to become junior disabled sports person of the year in his county. His award was collected on the night by the Wenlo RDA team (pictured above).

Claire tweeted in jest afterwards: “I was quite disappointed neither [of the ponies] bothered to come.”

Jane Gladstone from Nottingham RDA was RDA Volunteer of the Year

Jane Gladstone from Nottingham RDA was RDA Volunteer of the Year

RDA vet of the year Tom Miller of Stokesley Veterinary Practice, was nominated by the Unicorn Centre, Middlesborough

RDA vet of the year Tom Miller of Stokesley Veterinary Practice, was nominated by the Unicorn Centre, Middlesborough

Paul Conway from Unicorn Centre RDA was the RDA's most improved participant of 2013

Paul Conway from Unicorn Centre RDA was the RDA’s most improved participant of 2013

Severn Trent were winners of the RDA Business Partnership Award 2013

Severn Trent were winners of the RDA Business Partnership Award 2013

Kesteven RDA won the RDA Group Brilliant Idea award for the introduction of its Saddle Club

Kesteven RDA won the RDA Group Brilliant Idea award for the introduction of its regular Thursday evening Saddle Club