A massive thank you to Local Rider Magazine for your fantastic article about me in the August issue (p32) following our great result at the Para Summer Championships. I really feel after the brilliant job our para equestrian team did at the Paralympics last year that para dressage is becoming more and more recognised as being equal to the able-bodied equivalent… and the more articles like this the better.
Local Rider is the only paid for glossy magazine dedicated to equestrianism in the South East. It has a wonderful mix of well reported regional and national show reports, interesting and educational features, reader and rider profiles, news, pictures and results – it’s well worth a read!
Thanks also to Spidge Photography for the lovely picture – you can always be relied upon to take some wonderful shots so there are always plenty to choose from.
Having been home for a week I finally feel ready to write about my time in Yorkshire at my first International. To be honest, I’d be lying if I claimed I weren’t disappointed.
An international competition comprises of 3 tests – 3 chances to get it right! Unfortunately this was something I didn’t achieve which was so frustrating having done so well at Hickstead. We warmed up beautifully on the first day then went indoors for the test. Although we had had a chance to ride in the arena the day before and walk round in there that morning, suddenly the atmosphere changed from being calm and relaxed outside to having quite an audience inside and unfortunately we both tensed up and the test lacked suppleness and flow. Lesson 1: if Nick’s back stops swinging, don’t bump up and down flapping your legs!
Nevermind, the score wasn’t too bad and certainly reflected pretty fairly on the test. So for the second day the plan was just to make sure we kept our rhythm and relaxation, which we did so we were much happier about life… until we saw the score! This is one of the joys of dressage. You and the judge are not always on the same wavelength! Lesson 2: (which is one I find myself having to learn over and over again) don’t be down-hearted just because of the score – if you achieved what you set out to achieve you should be pleased.
Nothing could be done other than prepare for my final test on the Sunday. This was the freestyle to music test which I was looking forward to. I had designed a fairly technical floorplan and set it to music from Dire Straits which seemed to really suit Nick. I had never ridden it at a competition before but it had gone well at home so I was determined to put the last 2 days behind me and prove to everyone how fabulous Nick could look. Lesson 3: Don’t put that much pressure on yourself to suddenly ride the perfect test – it is unrealistic and will only lead to tension. Sorry Nick.
I was fully aware the test was not one of our best, however, when I saw the score I did wonder why it was quite so low. It turned out one of the judges had either gone blind or fallen asleep halfway through and not seen me completing one of my compulsory movements (I know I did it as the other 2 judges saw and I have video proof). Ridiculously, he then convinced the other 2 judges that I hadn’t done it so they both crossed their scores out and all ended up giving me 0. I haven’t quite decided what the lesson learnt from this is other than it just wasn’t my weekend!
Having said all this it was a fun weekend. It was great to get a chance to get to know more of the riders and the venue put on a fun quiz in the bar one evening as well as a talk from Sophie Wells who showed us loads of behind the scenes photos from London last year. I was thrilled with the way Nick travelled (Yorkshire is bloody miles away and it was VERY hot) and settled while he was there. He has really grown up this year and it’s so important to know he copes with this sort of trip.
So now it’s onwards and upwards. I’ve had a video session with Markus and Gaynor to review the tests and discuss what I could have done differently, after all we are still very much on a learning curve so every time we go out it’s all valuable experience – she says through gritted teeth! We’ve been working on fine-tuning the elements we lost in the tests and will be out again soon.
In the meantime we mustn’t forget Kira. She has been progressing in leaps and bounds (not literally luckily!) and we are planning to take her out somewhere soon to start getting her used to performing away from home – I can’t wait!
Massive congratulations to those selected onto the Para Dressage Squad for the Europeans in Denmark in August. The five riders are Sophie Christiansen, Ann Dunham, Ricky Balshaw, Natasha Baker and Sophie Wells. All have competed for Britain before though two, Ricky and Ann, are riding exciting new horses. Best of luck to you all and bring home the medals!
For more information see http://www.britishdressage.co.uk/news/show/1763-squad-announced-for-para-europeans
Nick and I had a great weekend at Hickstead – I feel very proud of my clever pony!
We arrived in the gorgeous sunshine on Friday afternoon and Nick settled in well to his temporary stable, though he did think it was a bit small when he tried to roll! Soon it was time to get on and start warming up for my first test. I was really pleased with how relaxed he was – he just doesn’t seem to care what is going on around him and just gets on with his job which makes my life so much easier! I was pleased with our test though there were a few things we decided could be improved on before Saturday.
We spent a cosy evening in our lorry and had a couple of drinks outside with some of the other para riders and their teams which was fun. Sadly my alarm went off on Saturday morning to a howling gale and pouring rain – isn’t it lucky I’ve practiced riding in this sort of weather as Nick didn’t even seem to notice!
We did a fabulous test on Saturday morning scoring just under 70% and coming 2nd, only being beaten by Deb Criddle who won 2 individual silvers and team gold last year at London and is a long term member of the British squad, and she wasn’t that far ahead!
We then spent a lovely morning relaxing and watching everyone else – it had dried up by then! There were some great performances by some of last year’s team members and a few riders showing off their new horses. As always, the music tests were a true highlight.
Three weeks to go till I head off to an International in Yorkshire – Bring it on!
Welcome to my new website. I hope you enjoying reading about me and following what I’m up to through this blog. I’ll try to keep you up to date with results, news and photos. Before I go any further I’d like to say a huge thank you to my wonderful friend Laura who has helped me put all this together. We all have our strengths but technology is not one of mine – I’m learning!
I’ve got an exciting few weeks ahead of me so I can’t wait. This time next week I’ll be competing at Hickstead in the Para Summer Championships on Nick. This is the first year I’ve qualified for the Open Championships (having previously ridden in the Restricted section) so it will be the first time I get to compete against all the other top British Grade III combinations – including Deb Criddle who won silver at London last year. Nick’s been going really well both at home and in recent competitions so I’m really looking forward to showing off what we can do.
As if this weren’t enough, we’re also going to our first International Competition mid-July. OK, it’s being held in Britain (Yorkshire to be precise) but it will be the first time we will compete against international competitors. It will involve a week staying away and will be the first time I ride my new freestyle test to music. I also get to wear a Union Jack!
So as I said, exciting times with lots of firsts – I’ll keep you posted!