How a coach’s support changed a rider’s life #coachingweek

  • A rider who overcome the odds and serious injury to enter her first affiliated event has paid tribute to her instructor’s “life-changing” support to mark UK Coaching Week.

    Victoria Hayden was on the verge of giving up in October 2016 after three difficult years with her horse.

    “I would come off Amir twice a ride,” Victoria told H&H. “I was told by many to ‘get rid of him before he kills you’ and ‘you have no hope’ and I was almost starting to believe them.

    “Then I met Penny Sangster, who taught me I should believe in myself and my capabilities and said that she could see with time, help and support I would be able to make a difference.”

    Victoria, who had always dreamed of eventing, has signed up for the Wobbleberry challenge and thanks to Penny’s help, has entered her first BE80 at Stratford Hills on 16 June with the 14-year-old Dutch-bred gelding.

    “When she asked me what I wanted to do, I said I would love to do a BE80 and I thought she might laugh,” added Victoria. “But she didn’t, she said: ‘that’s good, it is important to have a goal and have something to work towards’.”

    Penny worked out “small, achievable steps”and despite serious injury setbacks for both horse and rider — Amir had six months off for a fractured pedal bone and Victoria spent three months in a wheelchair with a broken pelvis following a fall — the pair are within sight of their goal.

    “Without the inspiration and guidance of this wonderful and selfless coach I would not be there,” said Victoria.

    “I once mentioned to her about her reasonable prices especially in our area, and her answer was ‘good training should be affordable to everyone’.

    “Without the encouragement of this coach who has bought us on from scratch, we were even unable to do a simple canter transition without bucking or making a fuss. I doubt I would still own my horse and I most certainly would not be entering my very first BE event and reaching the point of enjoying jumping my horse if Penny hadn’t been a part of it.”

    She added riding has also “kept her going” through the challenges of single motherhood.

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    “Penny has succeeded in turning many equestrian journeys around with a positive outcome,” said Victoria.

    “I would like to share my experience to others who may be in a similar situation, to give some hope and aspiration. Not even I would ever have believed it possible that I’m entered to compete at BE with Amir, it is a dream come true on the day before my 41st birthday.”

    UK Coaching’s second ever annual coaching week runs from 3 to 9 June and aims to celebrate the workforce that inspires, encourages and makes a difference to others across all sports.

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday

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