Equestrian centre hosts Paralympic talent spotting

HORSING AROUND Jo Restrick, Rayna Matthews and instructor Simon Laurens. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (13530-1)
HORSING AROUND Jo Restrick, Rayna Matthews and instructor Simon Laurens. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (13530-1)
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Picture Zachary Culpin/Solent News & Photo Agency UK

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A RIDING group held a talent-spotting day to find the next big dressage stars.

Tradissar, a disabled riding group, invited people from all over the south to its base at Crofton Manor Equestrian Centre in Stubbington.

Gold medallist Simon Laurens was on hand to offer his professional training advice to the riders.

Simon is a Paralympic dressage rider and member of the Team GB Performance Squad.

Simon has Multiple Sclerosis. At the 2008 Paralympics he won a silver medal in freestyle dressage and also a team gold medal.

He said: ‘We do these regional days to encourage riders to get out and have a go. That’s what it’s all about. It’s good to keep moving.

‘You can’t let a disability stop you from doing anything. Dressage to me was a lifeline. I was a show jumper when I developed Multiple Sclerosis.

‘Dressage gave me excitement again. You should never look at your disability as a disadvantage. Without MS I would never have got a gold medal.’

The British Dressage representative Waveney Luke was keeping her eye out for potential stars.

She said: ‘We have a tremendous spectrum of riders here and there is a really good spirit about the place.

‘Simon has a lovely way with the riders and he is very supportive as he knows what is needed.

‘We have got to be very encouraging to the riders to build their confidence. Finding new talent is very important if the GB team are to do well.’

This was the first time such an event has been held in Stubbington and organiser Rayna Matthews is hoping it will be the first of many.

Rayna set up Tradissar as a charity in 2006.

Rayna said: ‘The day was a triumph. Crofton Manor pulled out all the stops.

‘Out of the seven riders recommended for the day, five came from Tradissar. It was a first and something that we can be very proud of.’

Visit tradissar-rda.co.uk for more about the group.