Para point of view

By guest blogger Ashleigh Jones

The first month of 2018 has started on a high! After a month off, Prince has came back feeling better than ever. On the 8th January, Mandy came to see Prince and have a chat with Mum, Leonie and I about what we’re going to do when the loan agreement ends in May.

After a lot of talking, we have decided that Prince will be going back to Mandy in May, which I find really upsetting, as Prince has been the first horse that I clicked with straight away, and I just can’t ride him without a smile on my face, even if we sometimes don’t have a good training session. I’ll be forever grateful to Mandy for allowing me to have the ride on such a special horse! Prince had taught me so much over the past 2 years, and helped improve my riding in ways I never thought possible.

Making this decision obviously means that we are now in search for the next horse, but fining the right one has been made a whole lot more difficult, as the next horse has pretty big boots to fill! With Winter Championships in sight next month, we have really been focusing on test riding and holding my nerve when I’m in the competition arena.

I feel very lucky to have a coach as great as Leonie, as she not only has the skill of helping me to improve my riding, but she also takes a psychological approach, which really helps me pinpoint and identify exactly how I feel going into that competition arena, and we have recently came to the revelation that I tend to get tense and tight during competition, which ultimately leads to me not performing as well as I do at home, so we are really practicing on making the butterflies in my stomach ‘fly in synchronisation’

In order to get some practice in to manage the butterfly feeling before Winter Championships, we went to Hartpury on the 21st of January. The first competition of the year started on a good note, scoring a pleasing score of 68% with some clear improvement in terms of handling my nerve, so I’m hoping with some more practice, it will be far better ready for Winter Championships!

I think that planning your goals for the year is a very good way of measuring your achievements and what you need to improve on. When you work on the same thing day in day out, your vision gets clouded and you can’t always see where your at, so I always find it helpful to make those fundamental goals for the year so I can reflect at the end of the year to see what I have and haven’t achieved!

So what are our goals for 2018? Well, the number one priority is to find a new horse before we have to say goodbye to Prince in May. In the meantime, we are looking forward to be competing at Winter Championships next month, and we’re also aiming to do a few more competitions on Prince to improve my test riding further more, and get some scores to hit selection criteria for World Class in December before he goes back. That way, when I have the new horse, we can focus on developing a relationship rather than rushing to go out and get scores, which will ultimately give us the best chance of being re-selected onto World Class!

For now, we’re knuckling down with training for Winter Championships, so there’s a lot of exciting times ahead… Watch this space!

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