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  • Writer's pictureOllie Ratcliffe

April Blog

Bear

This month has been very busy; full of competitions and training.  The weather has mostly been on our side and the sun has even had his hat on! I am hoping that the recent hail showers and the high winds that we have had in the last couple of days will pass very soon! I also got some very exciting news this month, read on to find out!

I started off the month with a visit to Performance Hertfordshire where I had a fantastic session. It was very hard work but great fun and I am pleased to say they could already see an improvement since my last visit; which means that all my hard work has been paying of even if my miss behaving body is not cooperating! They upped my programme and have given me some alternative exercises which will be very useful when certain pieces of equipment are in use. I am so lucky to be able to attend Performance Hertfordshire and get their expert opinion and work with my old S and C coach Fiona. A massive thanks has to go to The Douglas Bader Foundation for their very kind grant that has made this possible.

My lessons with Rob have been going really well with both horses. Bear is being a superstar and the contact is so much better. I rode in his new bridle (Devoucoux) for the first time this month which is super smart and judging by the way he went he loves it!

We took Bear to Vale View for a summer qualifier. So proud of Mr Bear he was an absolute superstar! It was our first competition of the year and our first time riding the new 2017 Individual test, which is a particularly hard test especially for me as I have no spatial awareness! He warmed up beautifully and felt amazing, unfortunately he had an uncharacteristic spook at the start of the test which disrupted the fluency of the test and he wasn’t very keen on going down the C end of the school! Poor boy had never seen a heat lamp before, but then it was only his 3rd sleepover! We still ended on a good score and got some points in the bag towards summer qualification. All mine and my teams hard work is starting to pay off. It was super to be back on Bear and at a competition again, especially after the start to the year we had! Bear has not been back in full work long and is still a baby; he has not seen much of the world so it’s all a learning curve. We had some really positive feedback from the judge and I am really looking forward to our next outing. A massive thank you to everyone who supports me especially all my fantastic sponsors! It was our first competition in my new Devoucoux bridle and saddle, which are just fantastic!

First lot of exciting news I am delighted to announce that my nomination for a ‘Backing the Best’ award has been successful. I cannot thank my NGB enough for nominating me. Thank you so much to TeamSportsAid and Sport_England for your support, it will make a huge difference to me this year #BackingTheBest

Second lot of exciting news I have been approved for a Challenged Athletes Foundation Grant. The grant has come all the way from America! I am honoured to be part of team CAF and this grant will help greatly. It is the mission of the Challenged Athletes Foundation to provide opportunities and support to people with physical challenges so they can pursue an active lifestyle through physical fitness and competitive athletics. The Challenged Athletes Foundation believes that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.

Third lot of exciting news very happy to say that I am being supported by GLL Sport Foundation for another year. The free gym membership has made such a big difference to me and has improved by development as an athlete and will continue to do so.

I am honoured to be an ambassador for Arctic ONE. It is such a fantastic charity and has helped so many inspirational people including myself. I have benefited from an Arctic One Forward Motion grant two years running. Arctic One ‘Forward Motion’ Grant System is now open.  Please share and help us reach more people (http://www.arctic1.co.uk/?page_id=1172)

Last minute entry to Oldencraig was worth it. Rob couldn’t come so my mum stepped in and did a brilliant job warming Sky up for me. Sky felt super and did two amazing tests scoring two 71% scores. Could not be prouder of him; we even scored a 9 for one of the movements we really struggle with. So much more still to come as there where a few mistakes that pulled our marks down in places and it was our first time riding through the new tests. My body decided to miss behave in its second test but we got through it! In my lessons with Rob we have been trying something new and we tried it today in the tests and it worked.

It was fantastic to meet Heather Nielsen yesterday when she came to watch me at Oldencraig EC. I am very grateful to have received a grant from the Anders Foundation to go towards my riding and to help me to reach my long term goal of getting to Tokyo. My story is on this page scroll down from the first article and you will see it. http://www.andersfoundation.org/success_stories.html The Anders Foundation was formed as a legacy to Anders Nielsen who sadly lost his life in 2010 after a year-long fight with cancer. To celebrate Anders’ determination to succeed and admirable work ethic, highlighted by the international success he achieved in his Badminton career, the charity aim to support young people of all abilities, both disabled and able bodied, to achieve their sporting goals.

When I ride I struggle to keep a consistent and stable contact due to my disability. The horses have to get used to my miss behaving body! So I need to have the best bits possible so that the boys have as much chance as they can and if they are happy then they are more likely to be able to deal with me better. This is what I did and am so lucky to be sponsored by Neue Schule Ltd so that both boys are happy in their mouths and we can get the best contact possible. #NeueSchule #NSBits

Competing at home is never easy as the boys don’t get the same thrill as going out to a party!! I have got some new symptoms recently that neither me or the boys are used to. It’s the first time where my condition has influenced the test, which was hard to deal with. Mr Sky warmed up beautifully and then went to sleep and backed off! Decided he needed to scream and spook as never seen that arena before!! Have to love him and the judge liked him but sadly the lack of activity brought our mark down. Sadly had a few mistakes in Bears test which were very costly. But lots to like and a much better picture. Very exciting for the future. Still not been doing these tests for very long! Only got a few more points to get with both boys, 1 with Sky and 3 with Bear so nearly there. Thank you to Rob for coming to ride both boys and train me and for your words of wisdom.

The last competition of the month was an extremely good one. Sky was an absolute superstar and did two very good tests; everything we had been working on in training came together in the test. We still have a few areas to iron out to get even higher marks but we are going in the right direction. I won both classes with 73.03% and 77%+. Even more amazing I got a 10 for one of the movements I struggle with most in the test, delighted! Sky is now qualified for the Semi Finals and I hope to qualify Bear next month.

Wow has this been one very busy and exiting month let’s hope May is the same!

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