Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Paralympic Medalist and European Para Dressage Champion: Sophie Wells (GBR)
Welcome to my first blog entry for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. This World Equestrian Games is different from any previous event because it’s the first time that all 8 FEI equestrian disciplines are competing together!
First I will introduce myself. I’m 19 years old and started riding when I was about 7. I did the normal riding club and pony club activities until I specialised in dressage at the age of 11. I first got introduced to Para Dressage at 13 and it all took off from there! I still compete in able-bodied dressage, and have competed and won internationally for GB too. I was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, which left me with just a few fingers. The doctors managed to save my feet but I have bad scarring and nerve damage in my lower legs. So I have good days and bad days! I’m a Grade IV Para rider, so I compete in the least disabled category of the sport. (Pictured: Sophie on her horse "Noki")
Campaigning for a place on the British Team is well underway now, but there are many riders going for just a few places, so competition is tough! Qualifiers for selection have already begun, and we have made a good start winning and coming second in both qualifiers I have done this year. I have two horses I am competing in the selection trials, Pinocchio (Noki, 13 yr old 17.2hh chestnut gelding owned by Dr Jackie Walker) and Valerius (Reece, 8 yr old 17.2hh liver chestnut gelding owned by myself since he was 5). My first major Championship was only last year, the European Para Dressage Championships in Norway, where I rode Pinocchio, and it was a great debut where I learnt a lot and was thrilled to win 3 gold medals!
I only started riding Noki at the beginning of 2009, so our partnership is getting even stronger now. While we were snowed off over Christmas and New Year, my trainer (Angela Weiss) and I sat down and sorted out a competition schedule for both horses for the year.
Next week I have a qualifier and then a lesson with Nicole Werner, Edward Gal's trainer, which should be great! We then go on to World Class Performance squad training, so I’ll let you know how it all goes!