RDA Rider of the Year 2017
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RDA Rider of the Year 2017

October 29, 2019


I don’t know why they chose me to be honest.
You’d have to ask them. It’s been a good year. It’s been a good year. my name is DarrenAshton and I’m 24 years old I suffer from Friedreich’s Ataxia and I was
diagnosed with when I was 17 None of us knew exactly what Friedreich’s
Ataxia was. As we began to realise what the effect was going to be, it was a
bombshell to the whole family. All I wanted to do when I was young was play football all the time I played football in the garden, I played for my local team and then it had to stop just suddenly. It really hurt me for years.
Years and years. I guess that the light at the end of the
tunnel came when I started doing my riding. We found out about the
RDA by some other parent talking to my wife. It strengthens
the core balance, horse riding, and that’s only going to have to be a good thing
for somebody whose core balance is deteriorating. As Darren has ridden with the group and
progressed, we’ve really seen an increase in his strength, in his balance, in his
core stability, the way that he’s able to hold himself on the horse is really
improved. I think it’s the competitiveness, and him wanting so much to move away from that wobbly person who did the first lessons with
with Saxon group to not being led, not having any so many side walkers….. to being ……normal it’s pretty big getting the strength back in my body, because it means I can compete and I have the chance of winning I did a show jumping competition and
I came seventh, and that’s the only time I’ve come outside the top three, and I didn’t like that very much. the group nominated Darren because we
really thought that he embodied everything that RDA stands for, you know
the progression that he’s made in terms of his riding ability and his technical
ability, the way that we’ve seen him move from a rider who’s been on the
lead rein through to an independent rider the success that he’s made at
competition going from never having been in a competition to finishing second in
the Nationals. But more than that I think the progress that he’s made in himself
coming to terms with his condition and what he can do and the enjoyment that he
gets from riding. probably my proudest bit was finding out
he’d won this award. I was absolutely staggered and there was a lump a lump in my throat – still is. I’m so immensely proud of him. I think I’ve learned that I haven’t lost
my competitive edge that I’ve always had. That I’m resilient, and that whatever’s thrown at me I could overcome if I just try to. Instead of focusing on the bad focus on
the good. And then everything will work out in the end you

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