As per usual the past few weeks have been extremely busy with competitions, training and somewhere among everything I also managed to squeeze in my birthday.
First of all, Abira and I headed off to the BD National Championships at Stoneleigh where we were competing in the KBIS Para championships. The run up was anything but plain sailing with my body getting a bit tired towards the end of the season, but Abira knows when he needs to try extra hard to help me.
Abira was a tad over-enthusiastic in his test. We had a frustrating jog in his walk, which proved very expensive but his trot work was fantastic and very expressive. We managed to scoop second place in a strong Grade II section. He gives me more and more every time and I could be nothing less than absolutely delighted with him, and all he has done for me this year.
Someone said to me at the nationals, that my year has been “what dreams are made of” and I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Demo dancing time
I recently had a wonderful time riding at the British Dressage south west region freestyle demonstration, which was held in conjunction with B&W Equine Vets who I work for and who very kindly sponsor me.
At the beginning of the evening I was a guinea pig rider, performing various movements that are allowed in a prelim freestyle test on LJT Enggaards Solitaire (Sid) under the watchful eye of international dressage rider Hayley Watson-Greaves, which was a very useful exercise for both Sid and I. Next up was Abira who got the chance to show off to the crowd and ‘dance’ to his favourite freestyle music. Both horses were extremely well behaved and gave me plenty to smile about.
Winter qualifier — Sparsholt
A couple of weeks ago we headed to Sparsholt College with both horses. This was to be almost Abira’s final competition of the year. He just needed six more points to qualify for the winter para dressage championships early next year. He performed very well but stablemate Sid beat him into second place in both tests (something I won’t tell Abira about as he wouldn’t be impressed that the new kid on the block is beating him!). Nevertheless, Abira gained his qualification and will now be kept ticking over and in training over the winter months, while Sid now also needs just six more points in order to gain the same qualification.
I’ve just returned from a couple of days of BEF Excel squad training at Solihull, which was fantastic yet again. Sid came along with me and we’ve both learnt a huge amount.
We got to meet and talk with both human and equine nutritionists, a vet, farrier, saddler and human physio. I also had a session with sports psychologist Jennie Killilea and another pliance session, which is an in-depth analysis of the rider’s position on a horse.
This involved being filmed in slow-mo and watching it back was massively interesting. I had a similar session last year and it was reassuring to hear that my position has improved greatly. As my pelvis has been crushed twice, I struggle to sit on my right seat bone. I also had a tendency to move my upper body in an ‘S’ shape, but thanks to everyone for their support at Oaksey House, I am much stronger through my core, which helps to alleviate this problem. It is also thanks in part to Albion who provided me with a custom-made saddle a few months ago — prior to that I was ‘swimming’ about in Charlie Hutton’s dressage saddle, which was much too big for me!
I then had two sessions with Sid under the guidance of Angela Weiss, who also trains fellow para dressage rider Sophie Wells. Sid showed a huge improvement through both sessions and as he gets stronger he gets better and better. It goes without saying that this continued improvement wouldn’t be possible without Charlie and Pammy Hutton who help me both with training and riding.
In some exciting news, I have been awarded a SportsAid award from the Realbuzz Foundation, which focuses on providing talented disabled athletes the opportunity to reach their maximum potential. This very generous funding will go towards all of the costs that go hand-in-hand with horses!
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I’m an Aunty again
Somewhere in amongst all of my competing and training was my birthday. I celebrated with friends and also managed to go home to Cornwall, where I also met my gorgeous newborn niece, Sky. I’m trying my very hardest to dress her in as much horsey related items as possible, much to the disgust of my totally non-horsey brother Jamie!
Paraberry’s epic trip
Finally, Paraberry returned from his incredible adventures in Rio with the gold medal-winning British para dressage team. A huge congratulations to the team and thank you Sarah Armstrong for looking after Paraberry so well. He’s had a whale of a time, spreading the word #kickingcancersbutt and I’d say he did a pretty good job of being a lucky mascot.
“Do not give your past the power to define your future”