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#247ParaDressage Twitter Takeover

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So this coming month (August) I have been helping to organise a Twitter Takeover for Para Dressage riders to give them a voice to be heard in a wider circle than they normally would. This will be done through @247Dressage on twitter with the #247ParaDressage in use for the whole month.

This is the idea from Caroline who runs @StyleReins magazine and also the @247Dressage twitter. She asked if I could help in drumming up support and people to be involved in the takeover. The reason she said although as a small business she can’t help riders in monetary terms she can help give them a voice through twitter and her magazine via its reach.

So what does this mean for me as a rider, well it gives me an increased audience to tell my story and who I am and what I need. This is massively important as sponsorship at the lower level is so hard to come by, and if like me you want to get to the top you need support. Luckily so far I have had this through small sponsorships from both individuals and companies but more is needed to enable me to reach my goal.

This is the same for many of the other riders who will be taking part in this takeover this month most like me have just competed at the RDA National Championships which is the largest gathering of para equestrian athletes in the world. This takeover will help many go on to the next level through attracting support from their local areas or even on a national level for those who are hoping to go on to compete for GB in the future.

Riding Para Dressage indeed any Para discipline is hard and cost for many can be really difficult to bear especially if you don’t come from a riding area like myself or you have extra costs because of your disability. For someone who wants to compete on the basic National BD Para Intro circuit it could easily cost upwards of over £20k if you have to hire a horse-box if you don’t have your own, which I don’t as I need an automatic 3.5tn box.

The people running the twitter over the next month will tell you their story, what they go through on a daily basis in order to be able to ride and what they need to reach their goals.

If you can help anyone in any way please contact either myself on @OneLegRider or @247Dressage who will put you onto the right person, each tweet will say who its off either in the main tweet or in the reply. Their will be much to learn we hope about ParaDressage and why we each do it, we hope you enjoy the month.

Craig

Written by pegleg5125

31/07/2017 at 10:31 am

And in joint forth place…

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Five simple words, that’s all they are but to me it is a sign of an achievement that will live with me forever, a fourth place at The Riding for the Disabled (RDA) National Championships. First time competing at a National event and I won a rosette.

Why? Its simple I like to win things and this is me going in the right direction. After just 8 months of real training on 3 or 4 different horses and just 10 weeks to get a real partnership with my current horse Beauty well it was out of this world. I also bagged ninth in my main class scoring the same percentage and overall score as 8th place, only being separated by our collective marks. But hey I’m still in the top 10 of my country.

This blog is really about the weekend and the week leading up to the Championship. It started early on Monday 10th July, as I had to travel down to Chippenham in Wiltshire to pick up a van from Bathwick Car and Van Hire, because it was the closest place I could get a 3.5tn automatic horse box from. My sponsors Irvings Law of Liverpool had kindly agreed to pay for the whole weekend at a massive cost so I must say a big thank you to them.

I travelled by car, train and bus over 200 miles to get the van and then the same distance back driving the vehicle. I had never driven a van before. It was brilliant so much fun to do. I arrived home just after 9pm. The Tuesday was my son’s birthday so no training then and as it was the weather was rubbish.

I had my final training session with my coach Moira on Wednesday where we practiced both tests and they went so well it was unreal. Thursday was travel day. It took over 4 hours to get to Hartpury Equine College the beautiful home of the Championships. Beauty was treated to a lovely stable and we sorted her for the evening before meeting up with our friends from the Pendle RDA Group who we parked our van next to for the weekend. Lots of laughs have been had I can tell you, most not for public consumption.

As I wasn’t competing till the Sunday I spent Friday and Saturday watching and meeting friends I’d made over social media and just relaxing.

Well I say relaxing if you call getting your horse out of the stable when your coach arrives and realise she’s like a coiled spring that you may not make it into the arena on Sunday. Beauty had to be walked and walked lots and then ridden both evenings and between them Moira and Helen did the walking as always, I just sat on the horse.

Even though I was competing at 9.56 on the Sunday, Saturday night was still party night and superhero fancy dress was the theme. We had to go and aimed to be back in the room by 10pm. Well 11pm was ok, wasn’t it?

Sunday morning was a mad rush, Helen was out and feeding Beauty by 6.30 before I woke and tried to wake Clayton, but an 8-year-old who had been out partying the night before was not for waking. Thankfully Helen came back for us to go to breakfast and she sorted him.

I’d like to talk about Helen here if I may. We have been married 17 ½ years. Like every couple, we’ve had good times and bad times but we are together. She took me on when I was more able than I am now, and now she is my carer as well as my wife, she is a mum and now head groom. I don’t know how many caps she wants but I hope it’s not many more as I don’t think she can split herself much more lol. She has been so good, without her none of this silly dream of mine would be possible so I want to really thank her for that and tell her it means more than she will ever know.

I mounted Beauty at 9.30 just outside the collecting ring and although a little jumpy she was better than she had been. Then as we went into the collecting ring she switched on, it was like a light went on and she was like “oh I remember doing all this”. Having walked round for what seemed like a life time we got our call to enter the huge outdoor arena. I went and spoke to the judge who was situated in one of the type of sheds you see at big dressage competitions around the world. As we walked down the side of arena 8 the bell sounded to start the test. Beauty rose to the occasion and hit the centre line like a pro. I felt the test went well and the pace was good. Could it have gone better of course it could but very few get it completely right.

It all seemed to be over in a flash and even with the fly’s driving her mad Beauty behaved so well. I must admit I was riding round thinking “we forgot the damn fly spray” lol. But we managed. It was so nice to be greeted at the gate of the stables by Helen and Clayton who proudly led Beauty in for a little rest before part 2 of the day.

I want to add at this point the 16th July is always an emotional day for me. It is my mum’s birthday and the last day I ever spoke to her or heard her voice. So, to do this massive competition on her birthday was so so special. I know she was looking down with a massive smile and as I left the arena at A I pointed to the sky to say thank you and I love you.

The 2-hour gap between tests flew by and before I knew it I was back on the horse again, still not having a full result for the 1st class and was now heading down to the holding area beneath the big indoor International Arena. I was 1st in there as I was the 2nd to compete. I had another good warm up and kept Beauty nice and calm. At 12.38 it was our time to go out there and do it. As I was walking round the outside of the arena to speak to the judge I said to my coach Moira “well if Charlotte Dujardin can compete in this arena so can I” that settled the nerves because this was a big arena that had proper stands that people were watching from. Again, I spoke to the judge and walked round to A to start the test. I had called the test MerseyPride as I choreographed it to Z Cars (Everton), Rockford Files (Tranmere) and You’ll Never Walk Alone (Liverpool) the 3 pieces of music the teams run out to. Again, the test went well. Other than our almost none halt at the start, but I put that down to nerves on Beauty’s part but not to be helped. In dressage, I find if something goes wrong forget about it you can pic marks up in other places and we did. A score of 66% in that test was only 2.5 points behind 3rd and 3 points of 2nd so a good halt and who knows but we got some really nice comments on the test and to pick up a 4th in my 1st ever freestyle test I was so pleased. I mean I just wanted not to finish last in either class.

So, it took quite a while for the results to be finalised as Class 67 which was the main walk test had 26 riders overall Junior and Senior. I placed 9th in Senior with a score of 67.35% same as 8th place but they had better collective marks. Right in the middle part of the group. I was so happy it wasn’t a rosette but a top 10 finish which I thought was all I could hope for. But the day got better when I said above I got a 4th for my freestyle. 8 months into my Para Dressage Career and I’m picking up a rosette for competing in National Championship inside an International Arena.

I am a big dreamer I know that and it is hard to keep my feet on the ground and not get too carried away. But I’m also a realist and know my path to Tokyo 2020 is going to be very hard if not impossible, however until it is completely ruled out I won’t stop trying.

So, what’s next for me, well I am now in the process of going for RDA classification which will determine which of the 5 categories I will compete at. 1-2 are walk only which is unlikely for me 3 is walk, trot and 4 and 5 are both walk, trot, canter. We think I will be grade 3 or 4 but 2nd guessing won’t help and I just must now wait till I can see either 1 or 2 physios’ who will put me through my paces and decide what I can and more importantly in classification can’t do.

After that then it’s onto British Dressage Para Intro Bronze level. I need to again start getting scores and getting noticed and attending BD Para Dressage training days in order to compete for initially the North West but then hopefully GB and again hopefully Paralympics GB. This is a long road but one I have now started on and I want to see it through. I hope you follow my journey and support me in any way you can. If you would like to donate to enable me to compete in various competitions going forward you can find my GoFundMe page HERE.

Before I go I would again like to thank each and every single person who has helped me so far in any small way. The rosette I came away with on Sunday was for everyone. I am just the person who sits on the horse, everyone around me in my opinion has harder jobs.

Can we make it all the way to the Paralympics, I believe I can and that’s the full-on aim, keep an eye out as this ride could get interesting?

 

Written by pegleg5125

20/07/2017 at 12:58 pm