Daniel Bates - 2019 What A Year!

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Merry Christmas Guys!

I cant quite believe it is December and the year is nearly over but I am still having a fantastic time.

So after my November competition I went back into training with my next competition on the horizon. Since becoming a full time rider my training schedule is fast and furious but it is working. I am having more fun than ever learning new things everyday and experiencing things I had only ever dreamed of.

I visited Hunters Equestrian to watch Levi compete a GP test on Abbey Tiron and in the autumn sunshine they looked amazing but I was also lucky enough to see Lily Hewitt compete as well. I am lucky being where I am with who I am with to be able to see so many beautiful horse and rider combinations.

Polework has been back on my agenda but this time with a new found confidence, I am really starting to love polework which is something I never thought I would ever say.

And then I made a big decision, it was competition time again and I decided to enter not 1 but 2 Prelim tests on the same day. It was only November that I felt ready to take on 1 test so I wasn't sure how things would go but if I didn't try I would never know, but what I did know was this would be my last competition on Joy which was in my mind when I entered the arena.

So on the 2 December with the lovely Joy, I entered a busy warm up arena and with the help and support of Nicky Hill I managed a trot and canter with less nerves than I expected. It is the little steps that mean the most to me as it means I am overcoming the preconceived fears that I had and feel as though I can be with other riders who don't need to know I have a disability and can cope which is a massive achievement when I usually worry about worrying.

Nicky Hill is Levis groom but has from day one been one of my biggest supporters and comes in on her days off when I compete on a Sunday to not only prepare Joy but call my tests for me. She helps to reassure me and I would be lost without her.

I rode Prelim 14 and came 4th and then Prelim 18, which was a big class and even though I was not in the rosettes I still scored 66% and the 8 that I got for my final halt definitely made me smile.

So I still had Joy for one week so what else could she teach me? What about jumping? and yes I jumped, for the first time ever and it was amazing.

And so the day came came the 7th December was a bit sad as I had my final ride and jump on superstar Joy. 12 weeks ago after rehoming Wilson I was offered the most fantastic opportunity to ride this lovely horse. She has just been amazing, she has taught me everything, from cantering without fear to loving polework, flying changes, jumping and having the confidence to get back into a competition arena the list is endless. If Joy could be bottled there would be a waiting list for a supply as what she has given me is unquestionable and thats why she is loved so much. 

She will forever hold a special place in our hearts as the horse who changed my life. And thank you doesn't seem enough for the two special ladies that made it possible, Nicky Hill & Megan Hill. Two of the most generous and supportive people I have the pleasure of knowing and who are always there to support me. 

Abbey Dressage is like no place you will ever visit, nothing is too much trouble the people are kind and genuine and theres always a laugh happening somewhere. Thank you Joy for being amazing, I love you and will miss you but I am sure you'll be back to see me soon. 

The kindness of Abbey Dressage clients never fails to amaze me. 

In August this year I was lucky enough to meet a beautiful horse called Little Man. I was at that time finding my new direction and the ride I had on this lovely boy helped me see my future but little did we know at this time how the lovely Lucy Boorman and Helen Boorman would come into my life. Three weeks ago I received a very generous offer off Lucy & Helen of having Little Man on loan too ride and look after for 6 months whilst Lucy recovered from an operation and completed her A levels, a very generous offer which I kindly and was very excited to accept. So today myself & Abbey Dressage welcomed Little Man. We know what a big decision it is to entrust your horse to someone but I promise I will look after him and love him like he was my own and I feel extremely privileged to have been made such an offer.

Lucy & Helen were relative strangers to me but the kindest of strangers has given me a wonderful opportunity and I am looking forward to the next 6 months and them both coming on the next stage of my journey. 

And what about Hugo!

Hugo is doing amazingly well. He is currently being ridden by the most amazing rider Robbie McNeill who has turned him into the most beautiful grown up horse with the most amazing temperament. To see him walking down the driveway at Abbey Dressage as I arrived last week was a special moment and is reflection of the time and love that is being put into his schooling. I have always known he is a special horse but he is something more and I love to watch him progress.

So I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and New year and I will be back next year! 2019 is going to be quite a year and I am really looking forward to it.

You can catch up on Dan's other blogs here