An equine student who has a rare disability affecting all four of her limbs has competed in the RDA National Championships.
Kyrby Brown, who is in her second year of an Equine Studies and Business Management degree at Writtle College, is a competitive para-dressage rider with the disability Arthrogryposis, which affects the movements of muscles and joints.
The 19-year-old, from Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, who started riding at the age of three as therapy, competed in the RDA National Championships at Hartpury, Gloucestershire, in both the grade 1b championships and the 1b freestyle to music, after coming first in the regional qualifiers.
Competitors are graded according to their disability and, due to being affected in all four limbs by Arthrogryposis – which causes multiple curved joints in areas of the body at birth - Kyrby is classified as a grade 1b, the second most severe classification of disability.
She competed on her loan horse Pip, a 16.1hh, 19-year old-Portuguese and was assisted by her groom and fellow Writtle College student Jen Edwards.
In accordance with dressage rules, the competitors are judged on accuracy, harmony and level of training. The horses are all trained in the same way so they learn to adapt to the riders’ individual aids; special equipment can be used but must be authorised. Kyrby uses loop reins and toecaps on her stirrups. She trained as much as able-bodied riders on the lead up to the Championships, as well as arranging and choreographing her freestyle test, which is ridden to music.
She said: “Due to a bit of excitement in the warm up we were not as relaxed as I would have liked throughout the Championship test, scoring 63% and coming 4th. The freestyle went slightly better as we had a little more time to ‘tune in’ and settle down so overall we came 2nd!
“I was very happy with my results as it was my first year competing and I had a lot to take in. We have improved a great deal since last year and I hope to come back fighting next year as well! I have so much still to learn but I know, as my understanding grows, my riding improves - as do my results.
“Above all, Nationals proved to be a fantastic experience for me. This is in no small part thanks to the fantastic team of riders, grooms and horses that is Oaklands RDA, who have supported me to achieve my goals this year and continue to do so with each ride.”