Blind rider to make national dressage championships debut

  • A blind rider is “excited” about making her debut at the British Dressage (BD) LeMieux national championships this week.

    Nicola Naylor has qualified for the medium silver championship with Ferarri and the gold para dressage championship with Donnatella H. Both classes take place on Friday (15 September) at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

    Nicola’s trainer Dan Watson will accompany her at all times while in the saddle at the championships. Dan calls out the arena letters as she approaches them from X so Nicola can get her bearings.

    They arrived at the event today (13 September) and Nicola said the organisers had already been very accommodating, allowing her to park near the stables so she does not have to walk as far.

    “I’m really excited — it’s wonderful to be here,” she told H&H.

    “Ferrari has been going really well. He’s only seven and has been superb from the day we got him.

    “Donnatella is fabulous and amazing, but also the most challenging ride I’ve had.

    “She’s very hot. I’ve had some fantastic events and some I’d rather forget, but it’s a reflection on the rider rather than the horse.”

    Nicola said the collecting ring can present a challenge, particularly at larger shows like the championships, and said she would appreciate other competitors’ awareness.

    “I’ve done the winter championships before but never the summer — it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she told H&H.

    “Every time I’ve come to watch Dan has said, ‘It’s a very good job you’re not riding because the collecting ring would be a nightmare’. I know it will be really big and busy.

    “I wear a tabard which says blind rider on it — I look like a road sweeper — but people get so focused on what they’re doing they don’t necessarily see me.

    “I don’t want to get in their way and it would be really helpful if other riders could keep an eye out for me.”

    Continued below…

    It has always been important for Nicola to compete at both para and able-bodied competitions.

    “To qualify for both is perfect,” she added.

    “Just getting here is wonderful — it almost doesn’t matter how you do, you’ve done so well to get here.

    “I’m going to settle down and enjoy it.”

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