Becoming a para rider: Meet the team

Sallyanne has been blogging for a few months now, so it's high time you met the support team around her helping her to achieve her para riding dream. 

The para team consists of me, my daughter Stella and son Harry (who occasionally comes to the yard when he has nothing better to do!), my horsey friends Julie, Michelle, Verity and Beth Hobbs.

Beth riding super flynn the para horse

Beth riding super flynn the para horse

I’ve known Beth for six years. She was my instructor prior to my accident and now has become a very good friend.

One thing I’m discovering is that this para dressage lark needs a big team of supporters and potentially a large amount of money (I have one, but not the other at the moment!).  

Beth has a yard called Loan Oak Stables and concentrates on schooling, training and teaching.

She also has an extensive wealth of experience in riding and competing.

She was trained at Tallend and has gone on to develop her skills by running and managing her own yard.

She’s currently competing on her diva, Silky in dressage. She rides Flynn in eventing and side saddle and also has some livery horses on the yard as well as her own and horses that come in for a week’s holiday.

Beth currently has lessons herself from none other than Carl Hester and Ellen Berchner-Nolan, who put her and the diva through their paces, and then Beth passes all that knowledge onto her clients - she's amazing!

The support team

 First simulator lesson at the RDA

 First simulator lesson at the RDA

My daughter Stella is very keen to see me ride again as she knows the love I have for the sport and horses.

She hasn’t been put off riding or horses in any way since my accident, she still rides herself and has forgotten the events from the day of the accident. Perhaps this is her way of dealing with it. 

I don’t think Harry is that excited. He’s much more sensitive and worries about what could happen to me. 

He saw how unwell I was when the accident happened and doesn’t want me to have to go through anything like this again. 

My friends Julie and Verity have attended some of the para dressage training days with me, of which I’m really grateful.

Verity attended Hartpury and was there when I first mounted the simulator (known to her friends as Margaret).

It wasn’t the most dignified way of mounting as I was thrown up and over, but Verity made sure I stayed up on top and didn’t go flying off the other side.

I can’t wait to progress over the summer months and I’m looking forward to my first ride.

Back on the yard

I’ve been successful at mucking out, filling hay nets sweeping the yard.

I can take on and off rugs and have even put Flynn’s bridle on… almost - when I looked he had one ear stuck under the brow band. Every time he sees me coming, he must think 'oh here she is again that nutter!'.

I’ve managed to lead Flynn round the yard and get him to walk into his stable and turn around. Sometimes he comes straight back out, with me saying “No back, back! That’s not supposed to happen you’re supposed to stay there Flynn!"

I absolutely love him. We've been bonding on the ground and each week my confidence grows, which has been invaluable as horses seem even bigger now I'm sitting down all the time. 

It's so good to be back around the horses at the yard. It makes me feel so happy and I look forward to going. 

I've no doubt how much it has helped with the emotional trauma I've been through with the injury, as emotional wellbeing is an enormous part of the rehab.

A huge reason to get up in the morning is the challenge and the enjoyment the yard environment gives me.

Getting back in the saddle 

Sitting aboard the simulator horse at the RDA

Sitting aboard the simulator horse at the RDA

The RDA simulator sessions are amazing, I’ve had three now and each week, the instructors continue to push me by constructive exercise.

Core work and balance are so important. I've now cantered without stirrups and while the surrounding mirrors are hideous they make me look at my posture and straightness, which is helping with my position.

I've looked at working now with two whips and learning to hold these and the reins. It's really hard to learn to ride from scratch as it's completely different now.

I'm going to the AVON Riding centre in Henbury Bristol at the moment and I absolutely love it.

Having watched some of the lessons for mentally and physically disabled adults and children, it's safe to say everybody has a huge smile on their face when riding.  

I can't wait until I can get back on board a horse…. Not long I hope!

Thanks for reading.