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  • Writer's picturemarida5

Long Overdue Catch Up…………..

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Sorry I have not written a blog in a while; I have been extremely busy and it feels like my feet have not hit the ground since returning from the Europeans! I am really looking forward to a quiet period now we have got the last major show of the season out of the way!

So August was the most amazing month and I made memories that will last a life time. You all know how I got on at the Europeans so I will keep this part brief and to the point! To be riding down that centre line with my red collar jacket on was indescribable and I think my smile said it all. Contributing to the team silver and coming home as a European Silver Medalist; took some time to sink it. To be able to take my medal to different events and to share it with my sponsors and supporters was very special.

On our return from the Europeans it was time for Sky to have a holiday even if he was still acting like a 5 year old; my attention turned to Bear and getting him ready for the Gold Nationals.  We fitted in as many lessons as we could with Rob; and we were ready.

We thought it would be good to get Bear out to a competition as he hadn’t been out for a while. We headed to Solihull and we had a very successful outing we tried the shorter contact with Bear and the judge loved it; we were awarded 73+% and we won as well as getting the highest gold score. Bear was a star and I felt like I could really ride him.

We arrived at the Nationals the night before we were due to compete, so we had a chance to ride him at the venue and he was chilled out. It was really windy and he didn’t bat an eyelid. Mum did the arena walk in the morning which was very busy and Bear got a bit tense but by the end he was much happier.

He went really well for Rob and I got on and he felt super but then we moved from the lower grade Paras warm up to the main arena where everyone else was including all the able bodied riders. We didn’t really have a chance to get Bear used to this atmosphere before it was time for us to go into the competition arena. It would have been too difficult warming up in that arena as I can only walk so it’s not like I can get out of peoples way. Anyway Bear felt good going around the outside of the arena the bell went and so I started my test. I was really pleased with him as he had coped with the atmosphere. Sadly we had a tiny jog which I knew would be costly; he either spooked or it was a miscommunication; we recovered well.

My mark came out and I was very disappointed to see how low it was and that we had come 2nd. But had we not had the jog which was awarded 5 from every judge we would have easily won the class! I was also delighted to see from the Judge at C who was a top 5* International judge that I had over 71%. Dressage can be so subjective and sadly you just have to take it and move on! But I am really proud of how Bear coped with the atmosphere and in the most buzzy environment that he has ever been in!! Looking back at the video he potentially did get a bit tense and on occasions looked like he might jog, but we can work on this and getting him more ring exposure will massively help with this.

On the Saturday mum and I headed back to the Nationals and this year was very different as we had a nice lunch and medal parade to attend as a celebration and well done for our successful results at the Para Dressage Europeans. First of all I went to see my sponsors; a chance to take lots of photos with my medal. Mum and I had a lovely lunch, thank you to everyone for organising it. We then had a chance to see a few more sponsors before it was time for the medal parade. It was fantastic I have always said one day I will be in that car, actually I think I told mum last year while we were watching it that this year it would be me! We had a chance to practice our royal wave at the crowds, had a short interview and then had the national anthem played for us. It spurs me on to want to win a medal in the future so I have a chance to be in the parade again!! It was so nice to be recognised for our achievements and to be able to celebrate together as a team.

We decided that the shorter contact with Bear wasn’t really working and made the decision with Keysoe fast approaching that we would change to the longer contact. I was really struggling to sit up and Bear was pulling me forwards. We changed and immediately Bear seemed to be a different horse and was a lot happier.

We headed off to Wellington to see if the longer contact would work in competition. I am delighted to say it did and we got 73%+ in the team test (a PB) and won the class. In the Individual test we got 70%, unfortunately the pilot had a spasm attack and went wrong as I completely lost my memory. Bear was so much more relaxed and we looked in harmony with each other. This means that Bear has now qualified for the Winter Para Dressage Gold Championships in just two outings.

This month I presented at the Private Practice Conference for BACP in London. I was contacted by them a while ago after them seeing the work I have done with The Douglas Bader Foundation. I shared my personal account of living with a life changing condition. I presented the same presentation twice once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I really enjoyed it and people were very inspired by my story; I had a lot of positive feedback. Someone suggested I should write a book and I need to run with my motivational speaking and go for it!! I am pleased I was able to inspire people and to send the right message across. I hope that I have helped to increase awareness of living with a physical disability to enable counsellors to better support clients in similar circumstances.

Thank you to my mum for being carer for the day and being mouse clicker and power point saver when we had a technical glitch.

Thank you so much to the BACP for inviting me; another thing to add to my CV!

In other news Sky is back in work and is loving life. I have told him he has a party planned soon so he is very excited and counting down the days!!

As Tokyo is fast approaching yesterday marked 300 days to go my aim is to campaign both horses; with selection officially starting next year. Bear has shown people his potential and we have had some very positive feedback.

At Keysoe CPEDI3* Bear did three super tests and we were all delighted with him and the work we produced; sadly the judges didn’t agree. But that’s dressage for you and the subjective nature!

Due to my Ataxia I find having a stable contact and keeping my hands still extremely hard and we were really marked down on this at Keysoe.  So we have worked really hard and found away that seems to be able to stabilise my hands and as a result Bear is a lot happier and walking out so much more as he has stable connection to walk into. I just need to get the classifiers to agree the adaption and then we will go out into competition and see what the judges think.

I took Sky to a local competition this week, it was a winter qualifier but he has already qualified as he has a bye from competing at the Europeans. He felt on top form and scored 72.5% to take the win beating a Paralympian on both of her horses!! A great way to start our campaign with even more to come.

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