Para jumping becomes new RDA activity

  • Para showjumping will become a Riding for the Disabled (RDA) activity next year, with disabled adults and young people being encouraged to take it up.

    RDA chief executive Ed Bracher said: “By 2011, showjumping will be integrated and become part of our competition structure.”

    “We are working with British Showjumping [BS] to introduce a training pathway for coaches and to ensure there is a clear provision for riders of all abilities to progress.”

    He said increasing demand and the push for para jumping to become an international sport led to the move.

    But at the top end of the sport, tensions have risen between the British Para Show Jumping Association (BPSJA) and BS.

    BS took over running para classes last year.

    Although a British team competed at La Baule this year, no national competitions have been run in that period.

    “We’re fed up with it so we are taking back running shows again ourselves,” said BPSJA chairman Andy Lawes.

    “We agreed they should take over, but they have done nothing.”

    A BPSJA show will be held at Forest Edge Arena in Norfolk on 18-19 December, with a general meeting on 18 December, to allow the 35 members to decide what to do.

    “Our members are dotted all over the country so we’d like to run three regional qualifiers and a final next year. We have to keep up the momentum to encourage other riders,” added Andy.

    But BS chief executive Iain Graham says its focus has been on the RDA to encourage para jumping at grass-roots level.

    He said: “I can understand Andy’s frustration but there are currently only 30-odd riders and they already ride in mainstream BS classes.

    Our long-term goal is to get para showjumping accepted by the FEI and into the Paralympics, but our plan this year was to link up with the RDA and get more disabled people jumping.”

    BPSJA members are graded from one (blindness and partial sight) to the most severe disabilities at grade four, including amputees.

    This article was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound, 11 November ’10

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