A group of our young participants have qualified in their Dressage and Countryside Challenge Classes for the RDA National Championships 2023, the first time in over a decade. Participants from over 500 RDA centres across the UK, are offered the opportunity to qualify at RDA Regional Qualifying events. Our MRT team came back victorious from their Regional Qualifier held at the Scottish National Equestrian Centre, in May.


We took nine participants to the RDA Edinburgh and Borders Regional Dressage and Countryside Challenge Qualifier at The Scottish National Equestrian Centre on 28th May, with the hopes of coming home with a couple of rosettes.  Instead, they came home with five of their team qualifying for the RDA National Championships at Hartpury, on 14th – 16th July, the biggest event of its kind in the UK. Young riders, L-R in image below, Anya, Fletcher, Eilidh, Elliot, and not pictured, Ian’s victories made it not only the biggest team the charity has ever had qualify for the National Championships, but also the first time any rider from MRT has qualified in over a decade. Plus, Maria came home with two firsts, George with a second and Harrison with a third!

(L-R: Anya, Fletcher, Eilidh and Elliot)

MRT Coach Caroline Bacigalupo, who has taught the young equestrians at her Saturday Riding Therapy Sessions, said,

“I am still in shock! We joked that it would be nice to have a rider qualify this year, never did I think we would qualify for eight classes!  I am immensely proud of all my Saturday riders, our team of volunteers and of course the ponies who all made today possible. It was a massive team effort to get us here, and I’m bursting with pride. Now we just need to raise the funds to help us get the team there.”


Some of the team of riders met Depute Lord Provost of East Lothian, Andy Forrest, on Saturday when he came to Muirfield Riding Therapy’s Centre at West Fenton, to congratulate them,

“It was good to come down to MRT and see and hear about the students’ achievements and to see the confidence that this has now given them in qualifying for the National Championships.”

(L-R: Eilidh with Raiden, Depute Lord Provost Andy Forrest with Charity and Anya, Elliot with Uist)

Learning Dressage is one of the equine facilitated therapy activities participants at MRT can get involved with.  The objective of Dressage for participants is to improve balance, control, mobility, memory and freedom.

Riding the movements required for a test and maintaining a good rhythm increases the participant’s awareness of balance and control. Dressage is taught as part of several sessions at MRT, as it is just basic schooling. At all levels it has been found to raise confidence and self-esteem in the participant.

RDA competition dressage tests range from being led by a helper at walk, to independent riding tests with lateral movements. The challenge of learning a test, riding it accurately and performing to the best of the horse’s and participant’s ability has many positive benefits.

Help our riders get to Hartpury

Our qualifying riders’ focus now is on fundraising to cover the costs of the trip to Hartpury. Although five riders qualified, four will be officially making the trip to Hartpury. Anya, Eilidh, Elliot and Fletcher and their families have launched an online sponsorship page.

Rider Eilidh has qualified for two Dressage Classes at the National Championships, and mum Michelle says,

Eilidh is absolutely delighted to be heading to Nationals and importantly representing the team at MRT. Riding is a big part of her life and the confidence and joy it gives her is testament to all the hard work and support that Caroline and the team give her week in week out.

Good luck to all our young equestrians and their support crews!

Click here to donate to MRT’s four young equestrians’ fundraising appeal

(Our Team of volunteers)