As I sat down to start writing my blog, a photo appeared on my “Timehop” on Facebook of me sat in bed at home in Cornwall with my riding hat on three years ago.
I am not entirely sure what was going through my head at the time other than the hope that one day I would be back in the saddle and enjoying being surrounded by horses again.
Many people think I’m mad; why would you want to get back in the saddle after everything you’ve been through? Were you not scared? Simply, horses are what makes me tick, in the same way that driving fast cars or playing football or rugby does to others. I’m sure a number of people will understand this and some may not.
If you calculated and worried about the risks of every activity you took part in, you would have to be wrapped in bubblewrap from head to toe and you would very definitely have an unfulfilled life, which is certainly not what it’s ultimately all about.
Results are an outcome of phenomenal teamwork and support. The beauty of equestrian sport is that teamwork not only involves the support network surrounding the athlete, but the horse too. Communication between the various members of the team is instrumental to the outcome and in achieving set goals.
All our lives revolve around people helping each other, whether this is to perform mundane daily tasks or work towards an aim or ambition we have. This couldn’t be more true for me, especially during the past few years. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today physically, mentally and in the environment I am, without huge amounts of help I’ve had from everyone surrounding me. My close family, friends, doctors, nurses, the air ambulance, physios, work, Talland School of Equitation (Pammy, Charlie, Abi, Emma), my sponsors and the incredible friends I have met during my journey.
The past few weeks have been what I can only describe as a whirlwind.
My ventures range from meeting the final member of the air ambulance crew who rescued me, having a trip home to Cornwall (including some time helping with lambing), riding in my first Prix St George dressage test, advanced medium freestyle regional finals, a Daily Mail appearance, a wild card place to the Petplan Championships at Hartpury and BEF Excel Talent Squad training.
Squad training — nutrition first
My most recent exploit was to Vale View, with Lucy Wiegersma’s former head groom Gemma (Tiggy) Fuller for an intense and fascinating two days BEF Excel Talent Squad training.
My first session was with the nutritionist (Georgina Impson Davy), which is most definitely not my strongest area!
We had to fill out a food diary over a period of three days, prior to arriving.
The session was extremely helpful and gave me lots of ideas to go away with and put into place. My main downfall is prepping and planning my food diary, and having the correct food throughout the middle part of the day. Hopefully, now that I am addressing my diet, I will see a huge improvement in my overall energy levels.
It’s a fantastic feeling to be back into thick of the competition season, and it was great to see everyone. Charlotte Cundall (fellow former eventer and now para rider) was brave enough to succumb to my cooking skills! Well, Spaghetti Bolognaise out of a jar and pasta on the Thursday evening.
We are unsure of quite what happened next, when the glass hob cover exploded with a loud bang into a million tiny pieces covering the pasta and entering the sauce. This certainly led to the need for a cautionary approach to eating the perfectly cooked Bolognaise, with a few added gems.
Sports psychology sessions with Jennie has given me a few prime areas to work on over the coming months, including addressing my time management to reduce my fatigue levels.
On the second day we had a joint physiotherapy and strength and conditioning session, with Fiona Cambell and Adele Carter. This is one of my stronger areas, as I have a very structured programme thanks to Oaksey House (home of the Injured Jockey’s Fund), where I have Dal, Rob and Mike to help me with the different aspects including physio, massage and strength and conditioning.
Abira felt in phenomenal form in training and I learnt a huge amount from my two lessons with David Hamer, and a couple of tricks that should make a difference and get me those extra few marks — fingers crossed!
On top of this we had our first review with Tanya Larrigan and Georgie Wheeler in which we had to lay down and set our goals for the next six months and assess if we had reached our previous set goals.
It was an interesting exercise, which really gets you to focus the mind on where you’re heading and what you want to achieve.
The evening talks were a real hit and a great insight into aspects such as horse nutrition, lifestyle, social media, rider nutrition, and the judge’s perspective which was presented by Jane Peberdy. Breaking down the collective marks, specific movements and exactly what the judge is looking for in the test, was a huge eye opener.
Competing in a Prix St George class is something I would have loved the opportunity to achieve even prior to my accident, let alone now, and boy, was it was a day to remember.
By the end of my test, not only was I beaming from ear to ear and patting the life out of Amo, I was also a tad emotional!
To complete a perfect day we managed to also get 64% and come fifth overall. She tried her little socks off for me, especially as the back to back movements are quite testing on my body. It’s almost as if she knew.
To achieve this huge milestone was the most unbelievable feeling. I honestly never thought I’d say that when I was eventing. Have I been bitten by the bug?! I’m even beginning to wear and acquire more bling as time moves on. It’s a slippery slope…
The complete crew
The jigsaw is complete after having a wonderful day at the Wiltshire Air Ambulance base in Devizes meeting Rich, who’s the final member of the crew that rescued me.
Rich, Kev and George complete the crew that were so truly incredible on 26 July 2012. It was completely surreal meeting Rich and meant I could put another face to the team on board. The strangest part of the visit for me was that I actually vaguely recognised him.
I’ll never be able to thank the team enough for everything they did for me. I’ve recently become a Wiltshire Air Ambulance volunteer and at the time of writing I was looking forward to helping at my first event on Sunday 13 March for the Bath Half Marathon.
“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results”