Last night’s episode of Countryfile was dedicated to coverage of the RDA’s National Championships, which it described as “three days of equestrian excellence”, held at Hartpury’s renowned Equestrian Centre.
The one-hour magazine show provided viewers with a look at some of the world-class equine facilities at Hartpury, as it featured action from the International Outdoor Arena and interviews with riders in its stabling yard.
The Princess Royal, who is the President of the RDA and has been associated with it for all but two of its 50 years, said events like the National Championships at Hartpury helped to raise the profile of what RDA members could achieve.
In an interview with Countryfile presenter John Craven, she stressed how horses and ponies could enrich the lives of people who spent time with them and “you didn’t have to want to be an Olympic athlete for that to happen”.
The Princess Royal was asked by Mr Craven if attitudes had changed towards disabled people and their abilities.
“There is now a much greater understanding,” she said. “It’s not about what you can’t do, it is about what you can do, and that was always something the RDA were keen to point out.
“That sent a message to a lot of people that it was worth trying and you could be just as inspired by different sports or activities.
“Whatever your disability was, the same thing applied. You might have a skill or interest and it could make a difference for you.”
Phillip Cheetham, Equine Director at Hartpury University and Hartpury College, said it was fantastic to host the RDA National Championships.
“We’ve seen the event grow each year, and we look forward to working together on future events and developments,” he said.
“This year was another successful event, showcasing the talents of para-riders at all levels, and inspiring new confidence for future achievements.”
Caroline Ward, Communications Manager at RDA UK, added: “Hartpury have kindly hosted the RDA National Championships for many years and we are so grateful for their support.
“To be able to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princes Royal and Countryfile to help us celebrate our 50th anniversary was very special.
“The day took a lot of planning, and the team at Hartpury helped us every step of the way.”