Bitter cold with wind and snow flurries in South Carolina today had my toes tingling. The deep South hardly ever sees snow. It was if I was riding in the movie Frozen! Of course, not one flake made it to the ground. Libby, one of my trainer’s 25 dogs, was so cold that her teeth were chattering, LOUDLY! Who was allowed into the house for the night? Well… actually, all 25 of them are inside in one place or another – barn, house, garage, shop, or office. Cats, too!
Next step – Selection Trials in June! Okay, not the next step. My next steps will be like climbing all 1860 stairs to the top of the Empire State Building but it will be worth it for the chance to vie for a place on the U.S. Paralympic Dressage team to Rio. I am honored with this opportunity.
I’ve always worked as hard as I could, as much as I could, to self-fund every dream of mine, from a beat up 65 Buick LeSabre as my first car, to college 1,000 miles away from home, to starting a business, to earning my USDF Bronze Medal. However, my dream of going to the Paralympics is beyond what I can do alone anymore and I am a newbie when it comes to fundraising. Thank goodness for my new friend, Irene, who not only started off my fundraising but has also generously given of her time to help get me in touch with the right people and on the Road to Rio with a “How To” course on fundraising. I can’t thank her enough!
Raising awareness means everything to me.
I spent most of my life in able-bodied classes without a dispensation, without specialized equipment, and, of course, would place last. I still loved competing. As a lark, I showed a walk/trot dressage test in 2011 with a 5 year old Arabian and did quite well. My trainer took that momentum and talked me into attending a Para Dressage Symposium in California in October, 2013 with Clive Milkens and Denny Callin. I learned that I could be truly competitive.
in 2013, I was originally (incorrectly) classified as a Grade IV, the least disabled grade. When tested for my international para card, I was reclassified as a Grade III. It was devastating to ;earn that I was more disabled than I ever realized. Of course, it all makes sense now. I wasn’t just clumsy or forgetful; most people don’t bang into walls or fall down for no apparent reason. In high school, my nickname was Wiggles because it described my gait. All of that time, I castigated myself, pushing myself to try harder or longer, when what I really needed to do was try differently – to compensate.
So… I want to educate other little girls (or grown women) to grasp the breadth of their horizons; to teach that some struggles can be mitigated with the right equipment and/or training. People with disabilities are capable of almost anything, including international dressage competitions. My dream – my life – is better since finding out about para-dressage.
Raising awareness means everything to me.
What are the Paralympics? The Paralympics held every 4 years for athletes with physical disabilities like cerebral palsy, missing limbs, brain injuries, or MS.
Paralympic athletes compete at an international level in 22 sports, each participant vying for Gold, Silver, and Bronze against the best of the best from countries around the world. The Paralympics immediately follow the able-bodied Olympics in Rio, Brazil next summer.
Training for any high performance, international sport is expensive. As a para-equestrian, however, each athlete must also train, feed, house, and transport their equestrian partner. Never mind the vet costs! This has greatly hampered the U.S. para-equestrian teams when competing against countries whose competitive para athletes receive national funding. U.S. para-equestrians must fund themselves and their horses until the actual Paralympic Games. Due to these high costs, some of our best pairs cannot continue toward the Paralympic Trials in June without some financial help.
Below is a Mobile Cause site where you can help para-equestrian dressage riders Travel to the Trials. Every dollar raised will help an athlete/horse pair with transportation costs to the Trials and are fully tax deductible.
Help send our best to compete for the U.S.! If you can’t donate at this time, please Share or Tweet. If you’d like more information about para-equestrians, please click http://uspea.org/
Paralympic Trials will likely be in Michigan. I’ve never been to Michigan.
Since beginning dressage a few years ago, I’ve traveled to California, New Jersey, Kentucky, Texas, Mississippi, Florida, Germany, Austria, the Pan Am Games in Canada, and, now, Michigan.
The possibility of adding Rio to that list is mind blowing!
No resting on our laurels. Snickers and I are hard at work, especially on our geometry. Okay, my geometry. I am also trying out a whole new rein design using a bunch of new muscles that are screaming at me every night! I really thought that I was already using all of the muscles that I had. Obviously not.
When not on horseback, I’m looking for accommodations in Wellington for my horse, dogs, trainer, and me. I’ll be at Global for both CPEDIs in January but must move off-site for the 10 days in between shows. I contacted a friend from my Arabian world who has not only found a stall for that time but has agreed to clean my stall for the whole time I’m in Florida. Thank you, Meredith!
I made a reservation for a hotel but really don’t want to live in one room for a month with another adult and two dogs. Even though my trainer and I are friends, that’s asking a lot. I wouldn’t want to spend that much time with one of my kids in that small a space!
So, the search continues… Who else do I know near Wellington?
Snickers is toasty warm in his new coat! Rest up, Big Boy. Looks like my immune system is stronger. I beat the flu in record time, without getting pneumonia. A tip of my hat to nutritionist, Amy Blackburn-Dreyer, at Resonating Wellness! I’ll be back to training for Wellington once the ring is dry enough. It won’t be tomorrow, though. It’s still raining – hard!
Returning from Houston USEF Para Dressage National Championships with my trainer, Melanie Mitchell, who had a raging case of the flu, I thought to myself, “I can’t get the flu!” Two days later, I only had the sniffles. Whew, dodged a bullet. And then…
It’s day five. I woke feeling better but by lunch… Well, better me than my horse!