The South East Region is active for dressage, holding dressage training days for group instructors, and helpers and the region's qualifying competition is held in May each year at Hickstead. The RDA’s National Finals are held at Hartbuy in Gloucester in July for qualifying RDA riders from all over the country.

The object of dressage for the rider is to improve balance, control, mobility, memory and freedom. Riding the movements required for a test and maintaining a good rhythm increases the rider's awareness of balance and control. Dressage is taught as part of most RDA lessons, as it is just basic schooling. At all levels it has been found to raise confidence and self-esteem in the rider.

RDA dressage tests range from being led by a helper at walk, to independent canter tests with lateral movements. The challenge of learning a test, riding it accurately and performing to the best of the horse's and rider's ability has many positive benefits. Riders are grouped according to their functional profiles and they are judged on their ability to control and manoeuvre their horses.

The objective of dressage for the horse is to develop physique and ability harmoniously, making the horse calm, supple, loose and flexible but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with its rider. These qualities are revealed by the freedom and regularity of the paces, the harmony, lightness and ease of the movements, the lightness of the forehand and the engagement of the hind quarters, originating in a lively impulsion and the acceptance of the bridle, with submissiveness throughout and without any tension or resistance. The horse thus gives the impression of doing of its own accord what is required of him.

Confident and attentive he submits generously to the control of his rider, remaining absolutely straight in any movements on a straight line and bending accordingly when moving on curved lines. Dressage is the gymnastic training of the horse, and is the basic foundation of every equestrian discipline, and it remains one of the fastest growing sports in the UK.

Most of our Paralympics riders started riding in RDA groups and RDA dressage dovetails into the training pathway for the Paralympics athletes.

For information on RDA dressage in the South East region contact Grace Lloyd Jones by email: graceelj@aol.com or find your nearest group by using the Group Finder.

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