It’s certainly been a busy couple of months, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. As cliché as it sound’s, they have been what dreams are made of, especially thinking back to four years ago when I thought my life would never be quite the same.
I’ve had Deauville CPEDI3* with the Lady Joseph Trust’s and Henrietta Cheetham’s LJT Enggaard Solitaire (aka Sid), Waregem CPEDI3* with Abira, a Badminton Horse Trials demo on Amo, the ‘cutting of the turf’ for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance and a couple of extremely special trips home to my family in Cornwall. To top it off, I found out I’m currently ranked 12th in the FEI world para dressage rankings.
A surreal feeling
The horses are on great form and Pammy and Charlie Hutton’s legendary Abira decided he didn’t want Sid to steel the limelight for too long! A couple of weeks after Deauville, it was Abira’s turn to shine in Waregem for the CPEDI3*, and shine he did.
He was second in the team test on the first day (he was slightly fresh!) and then he went on to win the individual and freestyle tests by a decent margin on 73%+ and 75%+ and our nations cup team of only three riders (Charlotte Cundall, Nicky Greenhill and I) ended up coming third.
Abira was on fire all week, from the moment he stepped off the lorry (still terrified by the trotters on the race track, like he was last year), until we returned to England, he seemed to love every minute of being the centre of attention, especially as he had super groom Emily Reid looking after him. Emily’s plaits were admired by many and her one liners and sense of humour will be a talking point for a long time! Half the time she had the whole table in stitches, telling stories in her casual Irish accent.
The trip didn’t go without a few blips along the way. Probably the most spectacular being me falling out of my scooter, getting caught on it and then dragged which nearly resulted in me taking out a group of Belgium para athletes (we laughed about it after, although at the time it possibly wasn’t so funny). I was certainly keeping everyone on their toes/giving them a few more grey hairs!
The most surreal part of the last two internationals was definitely having the national anthem played in a prize giving. I was also blown away by the incredible team atmosphere and unbelievable support we all had from the Lottery Funded World Class support team, something I didn’t have the luxury of last year and for which I’m hugely grateful for — I’m definitely feeling the benefit of it this year.
My smile couldn’t have stretched any further across my face in the demo led by Pammy Hutton at Badminton Horse Trials on Amo — I was on cloud nine! I’ve fulfilled a massive childhood dream and it was a huge tick off the bucket list! OK, it wasn’t like I was competing there, as I’d always dreamt of, but it was a truly incredible experience.
The two days were full of fun, great banter and all of us enjoying what we do, which is what it’s all about. What a privilege it was to ride in the main arena alongside Anne Dunham OBE, Pippa Hutton, Alice Dunsdon, and Daisy Cotton.
Amo has taken me from novice to prix st georges (PSG) and now Badminton — how many horses do that, especially with a para rider on board?! Thank you, Pammy Hutton and Lucile Webb Peploe for letting me ride her.
The other day I had a bit of a reality check during my hospital appointment at the John Radcliffe, where one of the team who has looked after me since my accident was quite firm on me. She made me sit back and realise not only how far I’ve come, but what I’ve achieved and the fact that I’m very lucky to be doing what I am after such a horrific accident. She was totally right, and it’s definitely made me take a step back again and look at how lucky I am in so many ways. Maybe I’ll let my body rest a bit more from now on and not get as frustrated! Easier said than done, I can assure you!
Time out in Cornwall
After the Badminton demo on the Friday I drove straight home to my parents in Cornwall. I hadn’t been home for a while, my body was certainly in need of a rest and it was lovely to spend some time with my gorgeous niece and nephew on the beach. The doctors said I was low on vitamin D, so I decided this was the perfect excuse to enjoy the sun.
‘Cutting of the turf’
The ‘cutting of the turf’ marked a huge milestone for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance. It’s a huge honour to be an ambassador for them, and to have been a part of the start of their journey towards building a new airbase, which will bring the whole team under one roof and allow them to reach all parts of Wiltshire in under 11 minutes.
Having been air lifted twice, I know first-hand how valuable and life saving the service they provide is, and how we couldn’t be without it, especially within equestrian sport which is generally held in rural locations. It’s a service we certainly all need to get behind and not forget that it’s funded purely by donations.
The next couple of months are jam packed with lots of training with Pammy Hutton and Anne Dunham, the KBIS semi-finals at Wellington, Hartpury international, physio at Oaksey House and I have now been given the green light to get back in the gym again at Bath University for strength and conditioning sessions with Mitch.
“It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones that are most responsive to change”