April 2017

After a busy March, Sam and I took a weekend away at his Grandad’s villa in Majorca, it was really nice to get away for a few days, which meant that Sam discovered a few more of my quirks, like despite spending so much time riding on sand I actually hate being in it……..horrible stuff!  It can be difficult to schedule time away around the competition schedule, especially as the International competitions are held in this country during the summer time too, but luckily my Boss Jimmy was a professional footballer, so as a former athlete himself, he fully understands what is involved when competing in sport, so allows me to take time off without pay so that I am able to attend the competitions without depriving myself fully of holiday.

Sam and Ashleigh majorca

I recently wrote a blog at work about the importance of open mindedness from coaches, but its equally important in the work place also, when you are disabled and/or involved with a sport. My working hours are great because I finish each day at 2.30, which allows me the time to ride and do my strength and conditioning work, which works well for my body and brain. In my previous job I discovered that sitting for long periods upset my hip as much as walking too much, so I am able to get up and move about periodically in work anyway, but going to the gym or riding after work really helps to loosen everything back off after being in the office. Also I try to schedule my work, so that I do anything that requires a greater degree of concentration in the morning, because by mid afternoon, my brain really starts to slow down, because my condition is neurological, and parts of my brain is damaged, the rest has to work double hard, meaning it sometimes takes my longer to process things. It is really reassuring  that Jimmy understands some of the effects of my condition, and makes allowances when I double check things as some people I have encountered have shown very little  patience or  tolerance, which made me feel really anxious and pretty useless, so I’m glad to say that  I am really happy with my job and colleagues now.


This believe it or not is a really big deal to me, because when I started my first job, I thought I would be able to work full time………….. Yes I soon discovered that there was no way that I could do those hours and fit my training in, and even when I went part time, the stress from feeling inadequate in the work place carried over into my training. Those of you reading this who are riders will understand the implications of feeling tense and frustrated when sitting on a horse but for the rest of you I guess the closest comparison would be the sleep deprived, depressed and anxious mother trying to settle a baby. It is really important to be in the right emotional and mental state if I am going to stand any chance of gaining relaxation in Prince’s ridden work and have a productive, progressive riding sessions.


So with my work/life balance in perfect harmony, this month has been focussed on training at home and looking for where we can keep squeezing extra marks in our test riding. During the middle of the month Prince’s owner, Mandy came to visit him again and have a little ride on him. Its so funny to watch as Mandy’s dog Winnie, runs around the menage with them, hot on Prince’s heels.

mandy and willow

Yesterday we took prince to Hartpury college for a summer qualifier, where we rode through the Team and Individual tests, Prince tripped at one point during the Team test and cantered due to loosing his balance so our score came down to 68% in that one but in the Individual we got 70%. We even got comments from the judge about our accuracy, saying we had made good use of the corners and prepared well for movements, so that got me lots of Brownie points with Leonie because we had worked so hard on our test riding this month. I think that is one of the most rewarding things about competing……….when you read your test sheet and the judge has made comments on the things you have been trying so hard to improve, it makes it all worth while. You can watch the team test below.

dsc_0511April 2017

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