Happy New Year Everyone
Well its 2019 and I've made it! This time last year I did wonder if I would still be riding at all but with some determination a fantastic amount of support from friends and family and some huge career changes I turned a corner and things are now going from strength to strength but where I am now needs and deserves some recognition for some special people.
During the start of 2018 I had started to fall out of love with riding, struggling with everything and having just lost my way and my confidence I couldn't see anyway forward.
Little did I know that my mom had not given up on me and without me knowing reached out to someone she hoped could help reignite my dressage passion and sent a message to Olympic Dressage rider Carl Hester. She explained that I was struggling and couldnt see a way forward, she received a reply saying he was happy to help and something would be coming in the post for me and a couple of weeks later I received the kindest gift, a copy of Carls book with a private message just for me and the spark I had been searching for reignited.
Little did I know how that first contact with the professional dressage world would change and reshape my life 5 months later. A simple message that made perfect sense and reshaped the way I looked at life in the saddle.
I would like to say to anyone who feels as though they have lost their way, can't see a future and is struggling with something but dont know why, please don't be afraid to ask, you might just get a response that will change your life.
I was then selected as runner up for Shearwater's Search for a Star competition. Jeremy Lawton and the team at Shearwater Insurance, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the fantastic opportunity you gave me, a rider just starting my journey and for seeing something in me and my riding. Your sponsorship and support have been amazing and I have been proud to represent you throughout 2018.
5 months after a reignited spark, things were still not right for me but I still couldn't work out what wasn't right and then everything fell into place when I was offered a fantastic birthday gift by International Dressage rider Levi William Hunt at his yard at Abbey Dressage in Tewkesbury.
It was on that day that everything changed for me when Levi and a beautiful horse called Samba owned by Sue Stephenson, showed me my future career could be a reality and not just a dream. A couple of weeks later on a trip to Somerford Premier League Dressage my future started to take shape when Levi agreed to train me and as I was sitting there taking in the changes I was about to embark on who should appear but Carl Hester, the gentleman who changed the direction of my vision. The opportunity for me to say thank you was too good to miss, as was the chance to get a much treasured photograph and I was again lucky enough to meet him again at Bolesworth a couple of weeks later.
The past 6 months have been a whirlwind journey but what an amazing journey with nothing I would change. I have met amazing people with amazing horses, I have experienced generosity and kindness which is immeasurable, support and encouragement from everyone I have met, have laughed so much, visited the most fantastic places and experienced the dressage world at its best. People think dressage is a posh and elite sport for the rich and privileged but what I would say the sport is inclusive and having a talent your born with is something money can't buy as is class and professionalism and if you find the right trainer with the right support, network on the right yard at the right time its like winning the lottery. I couldn't of wished for a better opportunity then the one I was offered and 2018 ended on such a huge high with a new set of friends and extended family.
Nicky Hill & Megan Hill, thank you for everything. From day one you've been a constant support, reassuring me when I was struggling but also being there to laugh with me, loaning me the horse that changed my life and just being all round amazing people.
Lucy Boorman & Helen Boorman, thank you for loaning me your beautiful Little Man. The next step on my journey and another special horse in my life. I have been so lucky to have such genuine people support me and step forward with the most generous offers.
Robbie Mcneill, thank you. Since arriving at Abbey Dressage you have looked after my beautiful Hugo. You have worked slowly and patiently with him to make him the superstar he is today. You make him look amazing and have the most amazing bond with him, any horse that has you as their rider is very lucky and for being one of the funniest people we know and we love you for it.
Glenys Hemming, thank you for the advice and support you have offered since my arrival and always there to offer kind words of encouragement.
A big thank you to Shearwater's Search for a Star winner Sophie Hall who has been there to support and encourage me throughout 2018.
There are so many people that we would like to thank you but the list would be endless but you all know who you are. Thank you for your support and words of encouragement, your support at shows and just being genuinely nice people. It costs nothing to be nice but the effect it can have is priceless.
The biggest and most important thank you has to go to Levi. The trainer who made me believe that anything is possible, saw past my disability and pushed me to a whole different level and is turning out to be the best role model I could of found. You truly were my lifeline and came into my life at just the right time and for that I will forever be grateful.
An important lesson I have learn't recently is too have fun, work hard but be patient because success doesn't come overnight, it comes from spending hours in the saddle and too keep looking forward as you can't change yesterday but you can learn from it.
Thank you 2018 for the year that changed everything. 2019 is going to be a lot of fun which we're looking forward to taking you all on.
Thank you Abbey Dressage & all the team/family at Levi Hunt Equestrian for being everything a dressage yard and team of riders should be.
January has already seen me out with the boys from Abbey Dressage, Levi Hunt with Chino and Robbie Mcneill with Johnny competing against each other at Swallowfields Equestrian Centre and placing 1st & 2nd.
Things are going from strength to strength in January with me doing my first test riding clinic in preparation for my first proper competition away from the yard which I'm super excited about and I have more pole clinics on the horizon.
Hugo is going from strength to strength and is definitely a superstar in the making, he may only be 4 but has the best manners, best temperament and movements to die for and today I got my first sit on him and trot experience and wow! That horse can trot.
I hope everyone has a fantastic January and I'll be back in February
You can catch up with Dan's previous blogs here