Sophie Wells’ London 2012 Paralympic Blog
“We arrived at Arrow and got Noki settled in his stable, unloaded the lorry and stacked our pallet. Each horse had its own pallet of feed and hay or haylage. All the feed bags and supplements had to be new and unopened, and the pallet wrapped in cellophane. Emma Kent, who has been back and forth training with Ange with her horse, has been looking for another horse for Rio for a while. She found one she really liked and got it to come to the Arrow while we were there that evening for us to see. He looked lovely and Emma looked confident on him, which is a big step. We all headed back to the hotel and out for dinner that night before trying to get a good night’s sleep for the last leg of our journey to Greenwich.
The next morning we arrived at the Arrow to find a massive red coach to take the 5 riders and 4 support staff into the Olympic village, it was certainly spacious! It was quite weird only going 18 miles down the road, but it was only then that we allowed ourselves to get excited at last… It’s so hard to stop yourself getting excited in the run up, as we all know anything can happen with horses. We got to the Olympic village and had a quick tour around the dining hall, gym, non alcoholic club, shopping including post office, dry cleaners, bank, salon – it was surreal! We got news through that the horses had arrived safely on Mark Perry Transport, and everyone was setting up the stables. We were due to head over on the buses that would take us from the village to Greenwich Park each day, however by then it was 4pm Friday night, traffic was terrible, so the decision was made to stay in the village and unpack. So we decided to decorate our rooms too! Tash (Natasha Baker) and I were sharing a room and had received loads of good luck cards that we put up with flags and bunting to make it a bit more homely.
Next day was our first trip out to Greenwich to see the horses and the venue. Obviously we had seen the main arena stadium, or ‘field of play’, when we went to see the dressage at the Olympics. But it was quite impressive behind the scenes! A massive veterinary centre which included X-rays, theatre, padded box and farrier’s forge – where they could even make shoes! A big stable block full of wash down boxes, the stables were all completely rubber matted, even the walk ways, and we even had a tack room each! There were 5 outdoor arenas, 1 covered arena, 1 lunge pen, the stadium, gallop track, a medical centre and dining area for all support staff and riders. I think we were very lucky to have such amazing facilities, and then to think that it was all temporary and built on stilts or crates. Just amazing.”