After months of planning, the first training days to help support young riders with a disability to take the first steps on to the England Talent Pathway and also towards competing in British Dressage affiliated competition have been held.
The first training for riders in the North West region was taken by International Para-equestrian coach Grace Mew at the Mid Cheshire RDA Group at New Barn Farm in Ollerton, Cheshire on 19th July. Each rider enjoyed an individual training session, with some of them riding horses provided by the Mid-Cheshire group.
Leonie Saffy, who was the youngest rider at 10 years old, during her training session; "I found the training session really helpful as it highlighted how important it was that I should work on my core stability. Also riding with the loops on the reins for the first time was really useful" said Grade 3 rider, Lydia Alcott, who is 14 years old and made the journey from Albrighton in Shropshire to attend the day.
Riders in the South and South East benefited from the expertise of Sacha Hamilton, who currently trains 2012 Paralympic hopeful and European Grade II Gold Medallist Natasha Baker, at the Diamond Centre near Carshalton in Surrey on 23rd July. Riders from the Diamond Group and one rider from the Epsom Group all benefited from Sacha's insight into what they needed to focus on to improve their technical skills. They also had the opportunity to get some expert advice from London 2012 GB Paralympic Team rider Natasha Baker, who started riding with her local RDA group at the age of nine. Having made the journey from therapy riding through to the top of her sport, Natasha was able to bring to life what it takes to become an elite rider and also give encouragement to help this group of aspiring young riders.
"It's great to see this new initiative to help develop riders within RDA and give them the confidence to progress into the Para-Dressage structure’ commented Natasha ‘I was lucky to have been given support by the RDA Centre that I started riding at and it’s wonderful to see so many enthusiastic young riders given this opportunity".
Riders in the North Midlands had their training day on 24th July at Kesteven Rideability near Grantham in Lincolnshire with Angela Weiss, World Class coach and current trainer of World and European Champion Grade IV rider Sophie Wells.
The riders that attended had the opportunity to get tips from Angela, who is both a World Class Programme coach as well as a personal coach to a number of top International Para-equestrian riders. At the end of the sessions, Angela set clear goals with each of the riders to help focus them before the next training session which is planned to be held in the Autumn.
David Hamer, who leads this training initiative for the British Equestrian Federation commented; "Many of our Paralympic medallists started riding at their local Riding for the Disabled centres. It was great to see so many young riders enjoying their riding and their sport. This initiative will encourage them and give them goals to help them take the next steps into competition riding and start their journey on the England Talent Pathway".
These training days are supported by funding from Sport England and will offer up to two regional training days a year across the five British Equestrian Federation (BEF) England regions and are delivered by top International para - equestrian coaches.
If you are interested in taking part in future Para- Equestrian Training Hubs, register your interest now with Beccy Phillips at the BEF: Email: Beccy.Phillips@bef.co.uk / Telephone: 02476 698904 or visit www.bef.co.uk/RDA_Training_Hubs