Daniel Bates- Sponsored Rider Blog

This is my first blog for Rookery Equine and i firstly need to say a really big thank you for giving me this fantastic opportunity and being able to be part of a fantastic team.

I've had a busy couple of months since being asked to represent Rookery Equine as a sponsored rider in Para Dressage so lets see what i've been doing.........

So despite some awful weather in March which at times i thought was going to see me doing a Wizard of Oz on LittleMan, ive still managed to train 4/5 a week, thank god for an indoor school!

I started March with a competition on home soil at Abbey Dressage which was run by Cheltenham Riding Club which always helps with my warm up arena practice and competition practice which gave me a result of 64%.

I also ventured out to my second affiliated competition with LittleMan to Allens Hill with the support of my trainer Levi William Hunt and supergroom Nicky Hill. Between the two of them they always get me where i need to be, when i need to be there and make LittleMan look amazing. With very little pre competition practice in the week before due to the most horrendous weather i still managed to score 60% and place 3rd but more importantly it gave me some much needed experience.

I've also been practising some independent riding. I'm learning that sometimes I just need to sort out little problems on my own and spend time riding without instruction. It's a whole new concept to me and a freedom that was a little overwhelming to start with but now I'm really starting to embrace the skills that I have and that I feel confident enough to tack my horse up, get on and ride on a yard with just my mom there. The quiet time i have when it's just me and LittleMan is helping build a special bond.

At this point i have to mention my parents, i live in Staffordshire but travel to Gloucestershire to train 4/5 times a week with International Dressage rider Levi William Hunt. My mom drives me 100s of miles every week so i can live my dream and is there for every lesson, clinic and competition to support me and has become quite the groom! Being supported financially means i can concentrate fully on my riding. I couldnt do it without them and the sacrifices they have made make them extra special and thank you never quite seems enough.

So with March behind me it was time to take on my next challenge and on the 5 April me & LittleMan gained our official title of Grade V para dressage rider and Para dressage horse as with the help of my super para groom Nicky Hill we completed our first Grade V test and walked away with 1st place. It was such a special day and definitely a date i'll remember.

I was lucky enough on that day to meet some other Para Dressage riders, Emily Skerrett, Alicia Griffiths who are also Grade V riders and Victoria Smith who is a grade II rider but the support they have for each other and showed me was amazing. They all rode amazingly and had fantastic results and i cant wait to see them out again.

And to finish the week i competed again on Sunday 6 April at Abbey Dressage at Cheltenham Riding Clubs competition to place 4th. As the only para dressage rider i was pleased with this result and i like to think that my being there helps to educate other riders on what my white arm band means.

If your not sure, a rider wearing a white band means they're partially sighted or blind. After a few near misses please could i kindly ask on behalf of all visually impaired riders that you could allow us a bit of extra room. What is really nice as well, is if you speak to us to let them know you're near. Every friendly word really helps.

So i'll be back out competing shortly and look forward to letting you know how i'm getting on.

Daniel and LittleMan out competing, looking very smart in their Rookery Equine gear!

Daniel in training

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