Paralympic hopeful Rowan Caley has taken a step towards fulfilling her dream by winning in a British Dressage para talent-spotting competition in Leicestershire.
The competition, at Vale View EC on 20-21 February, is designed to identify new faces in the sport and is in its sixth year.
Twenty-nine-year-old Rowan, who suffered spinal injuries in a car accident in 2000, achieved 85.27% in her test — the highest score of the event.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw my score,” said Rowan. “The win has given me more confidence in my riding and hope for the future.”
Riders had to perform a Grade II, novice test in front of judges, and then received a 20-minute training session.
“I really enjoyed the training afterwards,” continued Rowan. “I’ve learnt so much and have loads of things to go home and work on.
“My ambition is to be chosen for the World Class squad and ultimately to take part in the Paralympics.”
“Rowan’s commitment impressed us a great deal,” said judge Chris Porterfield. “She is a very sensitive rider who knows what she wants and takes in information like a sponge.”
Before her accident, Rowan used to showjump and event, and was inspired to start riding again after the success of the Paralympic dressage team in 2008.
Based in the Isle of Man, she competes on borrowed horses to bring the costs of travelling down.
Her trainer, Angela Kennedy, emphasised her natural abilities, saying, “Rowan has a natural ability and temperament — she is a joy to work with!”