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  • Writer's picturemarida5

September and October Blog

Sorry it’s late everyone; the time has flown, and I forgot I hadn’t yet written let alone posted the September blog! It’s been a busy month; read to the end to find out some very exciting news!!

We headed off to Bury Farm as we needed more point to qualifying for the Winter Para Dressage Championships. It was a very early start, but Damo was a superstar, and we easily got the one point we needed and more. We went for a bigger walk, a few things to iron out before the Nationals but two plus 70% scores.

Boat training has been going well; I’ve managed another 2k on the water, not the best time as it was into a head wind. But what was so amazing was that I could breathe.

I was invited to the University of Hertfordshire to do a question and answer for the Herts Talented Athletes Programme (HTAP) launch evening. I was supported by HTAP from 2007 until 2011 when I was awarded TASS, but remained at Performance Hertfordshire. I was 14 when I was selected onto HTAP and was representing GB at Junior level; I was very shy and had never done any strength and conditioning before.

HTAP was the making of me and helped me to develop into the athlete I am today. It showed me how important all the aspects of the sport are not just the training and competing. I took so much from the programme, but the psychology support showed me how important this aspect was and helped to develop my very strong mindset. The talks on 100% ME were so hopeful as since then I’ve undergone drug testing and I knew what to expect.

During my time on HTAP I met so many other athletes and really enjoyed my time on the programme. I was sad when I had to leave to go to university.

The strength and conditioning were a tremendous support and even though we moved away I still go to Performance Herts and train with Fiona. Thanks to a grant from The Douglas Bader Foundation I can train regularly. Fiona knows me well and it’s great to be back at Performance Herts.

I had a good evening with lots of questions and it was great to share my knowledge with the younger generation.

It was very sad news to hear that the Queen had passed away; I was thinking of everybody, especially the royal family at that very sad time. Thank you for everything your Majesty.

We headed off to the Nationals, our first trip to Somerford Park, we had a good run and arrived safely. Damo settled into his stable and then it was time for arena familiarisation, Damo was a super star and didn’t put a hoof out of place. Rob warmed him up in the warm up arena and then took him into our competition arena; it was a huge atmosphere but Damo didn’t mind. It was then my turn to get on and he felt amazing; whilst I was riding, they decided to measure the arena with a tape measure; Damo didn’t bat an eyelid and kept walking but some of the able-bodied horses lost the plot. They then installed a bell at C; lots of noise but again Damo was such a good boy. We had our dinner and then put Damo to bed as we had a very early start tomorrow.

We were all up early to do the arena walk and once again Damo was a superstar really relaxed. Back to the stables for a tiny bit before it was time for Rob to get on and warm him up ready for me. He warmed up beautifully and it was my turn to get on again, Damo felt fantastic and really relaxed. I was doing my test movements when unfortunately, a horse got lose and galloped across the arena towards Damo, he was so good my trainer shouted stop, so we did! Damo was amazingly calm. Once the lose horse had been caught, we carried on warming up. Before long it was our turn to go into the arena, Damo rose to the occasion and was doing his big walk but also relaxed. The bell went and we started our test I was delighted with him we had one slip in the serpentine which I knew would be costly as it was x2. But he had gone into a huge atmosphere and taken everything in his stride and we had done a good test with our big walk. The score came up and we were disappointed but waited to see what the judge’s comments were. Two judges had given me over 70% but one had pulled me down to 66%, we had finished 2nd. A lot of people said we should have won; the 5* judge had us in 1st. However after a re-calculation it was confirmed that there had been an error in the scoring and I was the joint winner, so we were Grade 1 Gold National Champions. Damo later got the recognition he deserved with a lovely article after all he is Grade 1 Gold National Winter Champion, Grade 1 Gold Semi Final winner and Grade 1 Gold National Champion. What a year I couldn’t be prouder of Damo and my whole team.

After a week’s rest it was back to it and the pilot had some serious work to do to improve her accuracy so that Damo can get the marks he deserves. Bear has been going really well in training and hopefully he will be back in the white boards soon it’s just sorting out logistics.

Straight back to rowing training which has been going well although the weather hasn’t been great.

Another great session at Performance Hertfordshire with Fiona. When you have the right team around you anything is possible. Really starting to get there with my pull ups and found a way to lift my legs as they are a dead weight, and I am unable to lift them myself.

This month we celebrated Ataxia Awareness Day; living with a progressive condition is really hard and when you have to deal with people who know nothing about Ataxia it gets even tougher. If sharing the word means that a few more people know about Ataxia and that GP’s can be more aware and know how to deal with patients better; that would be amazing.

We needed one more point to qualify for the Winter Para dressage gold championship, so we headed off to Wellington. We had a very successful outing winning both classes and came home with the highest Para score which was in the Team Test and in the Individual, we exceeded the points needed.

All of Damo’s prizes from the National Championships have arrived he loves his sash and rug; he looks so handsome (see him in the photo attached to this blog).

October Blog

September was a great month, but could October be even better!

I had very gratefully received funding towards this year’s competitions from The Anders Foundation but sadly this has now run out which means no Keysoe CPEDI3*. Damo is on fire at the minute so it’s a shame. Me and mum went over to watch, and it was great to see some of my para buddies and to cheer them on.

Damo’s groundwork has been progressing well and mum and me are now onboard having sessions as well. Damo has been a star and is getting so brave and confident. I’m really proud of him and it’s been fantastic riding him over poles around scary objects etc.

This month was mental health awareness month; its ok not to be ok. If you need to talk to someone, please do; I’m always here if anyone needs to talk. An awful lot has been thrown at me in my lifetime and I am proud to say that thanks to my amazing family, friends and my horses I have got through it all and am still smiling! I find often it’s hard to talk about things but writing them down helps.

It was time to do a 5k erg I had prepared, and I was feeling ready as my lungs are so much better. It was hard but I got the job done and finished. Then I realised looking back at the time and my split that I had broken the world record!!!!!! I had to get it ratified and I am very excited to say it has been and I am now the PRI female world recorder holder for the 5k erg (concept 2). I am incredibly proud of this achievement and looking forward to trying to go faster next time I do a 5k erg!

My rowing training has really taken off and currently I am training 4 times a week in the boat plus all the other land training and my riding as well! So, it’s taking a huge toll on my body but I’m very lucky to have a wonderful physiotherapist as part of my team and Lee my sports massage therapist. But also my amazing Mobiliser; it’s so nice to have 15-30 minutes to completely relax and to have no pain at all.

The weather has been awful recently very wet and windy, not perfect weather conditions! It’s been testing my strength which is still relatively weak. I’ve been trying to get in as many 2ks as I can at the minute, to try and get my body used to them! I’m very pleased to announce a huge PB a 10 minute (just under 11 minutes); may have been a bit wind and stream assisted but we are taking it!!

Damo had his monthly massage he thoroughly enjoyed it. Lee also treated me and it was much appreciated as I was a tad sore and tight.

Another great session at Performance Hertfordshire this month; the progress on the pull ups is still a work in progress but slowly we are getting there. Massive thank you to Fiona; I always really look forward to my sessions.

I am so thankful to all my sponsors and supporters for their continued support. You are all such important members of my team and I couldn’t have achieved what I have to date without all your help and support.

A delivery of PharmaQuina and PharmaTrac for the boys; lucky ponies; all topped up now. Not forgetting a treat for the pilot too; thanks Betta Life.

We also had a delivery of NAF products, Glucosamine, Magic and some treats for the boys. Their new favourite treats are blueberry and banana; I won some at Hartpury and now the boys have asked for more.

Finally, Damo needed some new rugs so using our prize money from the Nationals Damo has two new rugs, check out my social media for photos of Damo modelling them.

I’m very excited to introduce a new team member next month………

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