The EA High Performance (HP) Para-Equestrian Program has delivered an unprecedented number of development opportunities for athletes over the past twelve months. With the impressive talent pool of riders and horsepower involved in the HP Para-Equestrian Program the Australian Team for Tokyo 2020 will no doubt be one to watch. Committed to ensuring all athletes are given every opportunity to achieve podium success in 2021 and beyond the HP Program has extended its reach this year with a new and innovative approach.
This past weekend HP delivered a new virtual Para-Equestrian Forum, a key component to the program that was designed to ensure the athletes are prepared, informed and empowered as they continue their Tokyo 2020 journey. The forum was the first of its kind in the Para-equestrian space and utilised industry experts to educate and cultivate further development across the discipline.
The forum took place over two full days and the in-depth program was designed to encourage a holistic approach regarding all aspects of equestrian sport and athlete wellbeing.
The first day of the forum opened with riders attending ‘Riding a Gold Medal Test’ seminar hosted by five star Para-dressage judge Sue Cunningham, who is also a member of the Ground Jury for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Sue conducted a series of five stand-alone sessions focussing on each of the Para-dressage Grades and discussed the requirements of each test and what the judges will be looking for when a rider enters the arena.
Some of the other sessions included ‘Classification Demystified’ with FEI Para-equestrian classifier Sharyn Gregory, ‘HP Squad Team Dynamics’ with Behavioural Strategist Warren Kennaugh, ‘Coaching the Para Rider and Para Horse Selection’ with National Para-Dressage Coach Lone Jorgensen, and an extensive variety of veterinary and equine wellbeing presentations such as ‘Management of the High Performance Horse’ and ‘Swabbing of Competition Horses’ by Dr. Janine Dwyer, Australian Para-Dressage Team Veterinarian.
For the very first time the HP Para-Equestrian Forum was open to all Para-equestrian athletes and their supporters, not just classified HP Squad members. This decision was made to ensure the program continues to play an active role in not only engaging current cycle athletes but to also encourage new and emerging talent to take part in the program.
Those new to the sport were given the flexibility to attend the relevant sessions applicable to their goals and comfort level while the HP Squad athletes were offered an intensive suite of workshops.
“It was great to see so many riders and support teams join the HP Para-Equestrian Forum over the last few days. To be able to provide valuable information to both the domestic and HP riders is vital for their preparation for not only Tokyo, but for any national competition they may be attending,” explains HP Para-Dressage Manager, Stefanie Maraun.
“It was great to see some newly classified and up and coming riders join the forum. I would like to thank all the guest speakers across the two days for their time and the information they provided to the riders”.
The forum has been met with overwhelming praise and positive feedback from the athletes and there is now a plan to host further forums in the future.
HP Para-equestrian NEXT Squad rider, Stuart Dysdale, embraced the opportunity to learn from the forum as he looks ahead to the 2021 competition season. “It was a great opportunity this weekend to discuss training for performance under pressure with the HP Para-equestrian group. The thought provoking sessions over the days gave me an opportunity to consider what I need to do going forward to perform better.
“There was also a great session analysing the ridden test with an FEI Judge, invaluable perspective and something I need to bring into my training more often. There is a lot of hard work ahead for all of us with high goals to achieve” describes Stuart.
Article courtesy of Equestrian Australia