Let the Competition commence………February began and ended with us making the journey to South Wales, to compete at Mount Ballan. On the first outing of the year, we just entered the Individual test, as we are still trying to get used to the new 2017 tests. Because my disability is neurological I have difficulty memorising tests, and therefore I am allowed to have a commander, which is on my list of compensating aids. It also impacts on my training and the way I am coached, which was a topic we covered at work this month. I find it extremely difficult to do two things at the same time, so for example, when I am riding I find it difficult to respond to any questions Leonie might ask me, like to describe what I’m feeling. Instead we will have little breaks where Prince gets a stretch break, allowing me the time for my brain to process and feedback to Leonie, and discuss the work. Although it is the right side of my body that is physically affected, it is actually the left side of my brain that is damaged, below is a diagram which lists the functions of the left side of the brain.
It can be really frustrating at times, because it is easy to see the physical effects of my disability and people make allowances, where as because the impaired function of my brain cannot be seen, people rarely make allowances for the things my brain finds difficult to process. Leonie is really patient during training, giving me short and clear information/instructions, understanding that it takes me longer to pick something up, and in turn has got used to my simplified descriptions and answers.
Last week we made our second trip to Mount Ballan, and this time rode both the Team and Individual tests, scoring 72% in both tests, which we were extremely please with. The accuracy still needs a lot of work and we aren’t getting the same quality of work in competition as we get at home, which is normal I guess, but annoying because Prince is feeling on fire at the moment.
I’m not entirely sure what Leonie has been doing with Prince recently, but he really seems to have gone up a level in his training, and is no longer the tiring horse to ride through trying to keep him going, instead I am trying to keep my leg off! Also his facial expression seems to have also changed from his laid back, happy compliant self into a bring it on , concentrated game face look. I think he is feeling great and he thoroughly enjoys being out competing, especially if he can feel people watching him, Prince is the type of horse that plays to the crowd and grows a few inches whilst trying to show off., which is just as well as we have been invited to give a demonstration in August by the Friesian Horse Association at their annual festival.
Princes physiotherapist, Sue Palmer also noticed how much stronger Prince is during his monthly treatment with her and said his tension was decreased considerably this time, and his hind limb movement was improved and more even. Plus he always feels so much better after Sue has treated him, so he will have a slightly earlier treatment next month to top him up just before the Winter championships at Vale View, where we cant wait to see how we both perform in comparison to the other combinations. Its difficult to measure where you are at times with Para competitions because whilst you may get a great score, if you are the only rider in that class, you have nothing to compare it to, and the great score may just be a generous judge……..lets hope that’s not been the case for us, because at the moment I am feeling very happy!!