Category Archives: para dressage
An MBE rounds off what has been an amazing year for sponsored rider Sophie Wells. The paralympic rider sponsored by Asmar Equestrian has been honoured by the Queen in the New Year’s Honours list after Sophie contributed hugely to the success of Equestrian sport at London 2012.
The grade IV rider gained individual silver on Dr Jackie and Dr Neil Walker’s horse Pinocchio in both the freestyle and individual tests which are approximately equal to the complexity of a Prix St George level test. Sophie also won her team test contributing her high score to the overall Team Gold placing.
Nottinghamshire based Sophie Wells is not just your average rider, from a non horsey background Sophie has managed the rare condition; Amniotic Band Syndrome, alongside riding, which affects blood flow, development and movement to achieve success at National, European and now Olympic level.
Modest and humble as ever Sophie said “I’m so proud to say that I have been awarded an MBE!!! It’s so exciting and I can’t believe it! I definitely think this honour should be shared with my amazing horse Pinocchio and my fantastic coach, Angela Weiss.” about receiving the honour.
Supplying Sophie with the finest equestrian clothing Asmar is available online at http://www.asmarequestrian.com and from a selection of retailers. Asmar Equestrian designs a range of quality, stylish riding apparel suitable for day-to-day and the show ring. The entire range incorporates classic beauty, fashion and optimum functionality for riders who deserve the best.
…Tuesday was the last chance for us to get into the field of play, so we all decided we would like a run through of one of our tests. I chose the Team test as we had had a lot of emphasis on it from the team as it was quite important to go towards the team medal, that GB have never lost at a major championship since the sport began in 1996. No pressure! So I trotted through the chute, and straight in, dodging the other riders, but got a good feel as to what it would be like, and let Noki know that going in there meant business, and I could make any corrections then too.
The next day was trot up day! The horses were turned out immaculately, Michelle Tipper was grooming for me and Lee for this competition, much to Amie’s disappointment, but accreditation had to be done before she joined us. Next time! But Michelle did a great job turning them out, and thankfully all the British horses passed the trot up without a problem, so we could get on with training for that day. I only wanted to give him a stretch as he had worked for a couple of days and needed an easier day before the competition started. It’s funny how everyone’s routines are different on the team, but they all seem to work for each individual and it does show many paths lead to the same goal…
It was also the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday too. We had been strongly advised not to go, and we all, except Lee, decided to stay in. I really wanted to go, but I know all the standing around for hours in the cold would be negative to my performance, especially as I have problems with my nerves anyway. I was a bit gutted we couldn’t all watch the Opening Ceremony together with the rest of our support team, they all had a party at the hotel in Greenwich and we just had to stay in our flat, which was a bit of a downer considering what a big occasion it was. We had a TV appearance at the beginning of the ceremony at 8pm, pretty prime time! We did it at Paralympic GB House, then the girls, Lucy and Pippa (Pippa was our press officer for the games and also works for the BEF), had a girly night in, opening the balcony door so we could hear the roar of the stadium live as well as seeing it on the TV whilst wearing our very fetching white tracksuits! I would have loved to have experienced the feeling of walking in the stadium and hearing the crowd go mad for Team GB, maybe next time! It was probably a good thing we didn’t go as my legs took a turn for the worse that night. I had tried to keep things under control, I bought a scooter that I could whizz about on instead of loading my nerves with the walking, but I think the stress of the occasion, the long days, lack of sleep (as I wasn’t sleeping very well anyway while we were away), caught up and my legs suffered. People always think it’s funny when I whack out a hot water bottle which I take everywhere, along with my crutches, even in the summer. When my legs go, the nerves go into overload, my lower legs cramp up and it’s a really horrible nervy pain, that makes it difficult to walk, and I lose a lot of the power in my legs because of it. Heat really helps the muscles to try and relax and keeping weight off them helps too. I just hate not being able to do stuff. We have controlled it for a while with medication, but despite upping the dosage it couldn’t control it this time. My scooter then decided to die on me the next day, turns out the fuse had blown in the charger socket, so it had to be taken off to be mended, leaving me with my crutches. A fly then decided to try and commit suicide by flying into my eye, still being a problem hours later, leading our team doc to clean it, put anaesthetic drops in and having antibiotic drops, slightly dramatic for a pesky little fly! But the important thing was I still managed to ride and Noki was a star. I often have to carry 2 whips when my legs are bad to back up my leg aids so he is quite used to it. And as long as I can ride I’m happy…
Para Equestrian has been developing as an international sport over the last 25 years.
Para Dressage is open to all riders with disabilities who have been classified by either RDA or FEI via the Para Dressage Committee. Para riders may take part in able-bodied competitions using their compensating aids with a dispensation certificate. There is no age limit on participation.
What are the different classifications?
Para dressage riders have different classifications to determine how the physical disability affects the function of the individual. Individuals are assessed by trained, certificated physiotherapists following internationally agreed criteria. Riders do not need to be mounted to be classified but classifiers will observe the athletes mounted to check the viability of their decisions.
Riders who compete in para dressage are classified by their physical disability, not their riding skill.
They are rated according to their disability profile and classification, receiving a “Grade,” and then are judged against other riders who have been given the same Grade. The Grades are Ia, Ib, II, II, IV with Ia being the most seriously impaired and Grade IV the least.