So 2016 is here and another year, a new set of challenges, another set of opportunities, some doors open, some doors close.

Due to a change in my circumstances I have been able to take on more clients with my teaching/coaching. I love to help people get the best out of themselves and their horses and I love the process and partnership; it’s very satisfying.

All pictures are me training with Jorge

All pictures are me training with Jorge

My horses are back in work, plans for the season have started to be put into place and lots of meetings, performance and management related, with the World Class team have occurred. These are designed to make sure we try to cover all bases with the horses, myself and the controllables within the environment around us.

>>>Sophie Wells’ dressage blog: Bursting with medals and pride

I have lots of small goals I have set along with my support team, covering many areas including on a horse and off a horse. I love setting a goal and pushing myself and naturally making the challenge more challenging!

Pinocchio has had a new lease of life to start the year with one of my young riders Izzy Palmer. Izzy is one of the true meanings of “legacy” off the back of London 2012. She watched us on TV as an 11-year-old and was inspired to get classified and start her para dressage journey. Six months later I met her at a qualifying competition and soon after I started to mentor her.

Me training hard

Me training hard

Three years later she is riding my Beijing 2008 horse Touchdown, and London 2012 horse Pinocchio. This hasn’t been without her proving herself first. Touchdown stayed with me for a few months and Izzy made the two-hour journey several times a week to learn how to ride him as he is a lot of horse compared to the pony she moved from.

>>> Sophie Wells’ dressage blog: He owes me nothing and I owe him everything

Touchdown has been plagued with injury, as some of you will know if you have followed my journey for a while, but came back into work last year and (touch wood) is happy in his work.

He’s a very talented little horse, but he is also sensitive and can be tricky in the nicest of ways and is as soft as grease.

sophiewells2

ME with Jorge

Izzy has learnt a lot already. Now to give her more experience she has started training on Pinocchio and has completed her first competition on him too. He will stay based with me so I can keep him going in between as he is a very big horse and can be strong. But at 19-years-old this year he certainly doesn’t look it and is loving playing in his work with less pressure competing at the lower levels.

In their first grade III test Pinocchio and Izzy gained 74.67% and won. This was Izzy’s highest score to date and she also achieved her first 10. There’s hopefully lots more firsts to come.

Izzy and her mum are definitely committed and have grasped the opportunity with both hands. Izzy has taken on board everything I have taught her over the past three years and is like a sponge with information. Of course the hard times make you the person you will become, as with dressage and horses it is like riding a wave throughout your career. While training on my boys, we are still looking for Izzy’s next dancing partner — three good paces with a good brain is apparently very hard to find!

>>> Sophie Wells’ dressage blog: Top scores and European selection

Reece has had his first outing to a competition since August last year, and he was feeling rather full of himself! He was probably pleased that I hadn’t “forgotten” him and he was at a party again.

Me with Jorge

Me with Jorge

It took most of the warm up to actually be able to put my leg on and then for him to accept it, but he was full of enthusiasm and I love it when horses come out like this. Naturally then we did have some mistakes in the test, however some good work was produced, and areas to tidy up, but a good start with a win and 75.86%.

We have the Para Winter Championships next at Vale View on 20 March as the start of our big selection trial for the year commences for Rio! There’s lots of work to do between now and then.

Sophie