Tales from Hartpury: Blind rider earns top four placing at first able-bodied championship

  • Blind rider Nicky Greenhill finished fourth at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships, riding her own mare Betty Boo to score 70.63% in the 34-strong Equi-Trek elementary silver.

    “I was really chuffed and didn’t know what to expect – talk about feeling out of your depth,” said Nicky. “I was really pleased with all of my test – I’ve been working on getting Betty working over her back a bit more and into the contact, and I’m super chuffed with how it’s all progressing. We’re really managing to get all that stuff in the ring now and we didn’t make any mistakes, so I’m really pleased.”

    Nicky was born with a deteriorating eye condition called Stargardt’s which was first diagnosed at the age of 11, but by her early twenties, she could only see shapes against a contrasting background to the side and underneath. She also has total night blindness and suffers badly with glare.

    Despite her challenges as a blind rider, Nicky has achieved her dream of competing in dressage and although the Winter Dressage Championships are her first able-bodied championship, she previously competed in top level para dressage as a grade IV rider. She competed in many international events and won team silver at the 2019 European Championships, but has decided to take a break from para competition and concentrate on able-bodied events.

    “The set up in able-bodied events is exactly the same as when I’m at the paras – I have a caller in the middle [of the arena], an electronic caller at the end and another caller at the corner markers,” Nicky explained. “It’s quite a complicated test for me, so we’ve been working quite hard on it and it all paid off today.

    “Hopefully I’ll go back to para competition eventuality, but for now I’m focusing on a new test and different challenge, and I aim to qualify for the summer regionals at elementary and medium.”

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