This article is from the March 2020 Horse Deals magazine.
Abby and Baz at the 2019 RDAV State Championships. Photos: Matthew Wings
Where are you from? Melbourne, Victoria.
How would you describe yourself? I’m hard working and love to explore my limits. Dedicated and determined when I have a task to complete. I love to give back to RDA through my volunteering, helping others with their horse riding and passing on the opportunity.
Tell us about the early life of Abby Vidler. I was born in Melbourne in 2004 following a normal pregnancy. Dad and Mum didn’t know about the surprise that was awaiting them. The doctors haven’t worked out the reasons for why I was born without my forearms (but I tell everyone it’s because I wanted to be extraordinary). We had many visits to the Royal Children’s Hospital and lots of occupational therapy, making moulds for prosthetic arms, trying them out for picking up objects, eating, writing and so on. But I was never hidden away, always out and about with my parents because this is how I was born and it’s not going to change.
How did your journey with horses begin? A family member was involved with RDA Oakland’s, just outside Melbourne and recommended that it would be a great idea to assist with my balance and core strength, and would provide some joy being part of the riding community. When I first rode, with the safety of two side walkers and the amazing volunteers there at RDA back in 2006, that was when I fell in love with the sport.
What do you love about being an equestrian? I love the bond between the horse and the rider and the pure joy that is brought to you when you achieved your goals in a lesson, and I love the family which is made within your equestrian community. I love the horses as well, without them none of us would be within this community.
How is your tack altered to allow you to ride effectively? We have made many different arm loops over the years to assist with my riding and the contact that is required. We have had elastic bands, rubber straps attached, and currently we have a set of safety break free loops that are connected to my reins. These have extension loop holes that can be extended and shortened depending on the size of the horse.
Photos: Matthew Wings
What’s the most challenging aspect for you when working with horses? I think the most challenging aspect for me is rugging the horse in winter. This and picking out their feet are just a few little things that are a challenge, but I am super lucky to have an amazing team around me to help. This also means plaiting is most definitely not my strong point.
You’ve recently been through the process of finding a new horse. What were your requirements and what made you select Baz? I have been on the look-out for a few years now, so it has been a long process and one that will continue for a very long time. The requirements that we are looking for within a horse are nice three paces, a good education with experience in the world, kind and willing nature and good on the ground. When it came to selecting Little Baz he was an off the track Thoroughbred that had that kind nature that we were looking for and most of all he was safe. Over the past six months I have been putting a lot of work into him, and in return I have had amazing achievements with him, and that makes me so happy.
How has Baz taken to life off the track with you? I believe he has taken it all in his stride. He enjoys seeing a different side to life and doing all new things including dressage, showjumping, hacking out and competitions. Baz also enjoys his many treats and all the love by anyone who meets him. Together our bond is growing and I am so grateful for Baz.
What’s your proudest achievement? Winning the November 2018 RDA Victoria Championships and TTT Dressage Championships, both with my previous horse Cheerio just before his retirement. Since April 2019, I have been training up and competing with my new horse Little Baz, and we just recently competed and won the RDA National Championships.
How do your parents support your riding aspirations? I’m lucky to have the support I receive from each of my parents and my little brother Owen. There are many early mornings, long days and late nights, in all weather, being taken to and picked up from training on average five days a week. Not to mention the riding equipment being replaced and floating my horse to and from events. Travelling to and from training and events takes up a lot of time. I will work as hard as they do for me and one day I hope to make them proud of their efforts.
Who is your idol? Joanne Formosa and Emma Booth who both have represented Australia in the Paralympics.
What’s next for Abby Vidler? I’m looking at starting EA para-dressage with ongoing training to be in a position for the 2024 Olympics in Paris and beyond. With school and VCE over the next two years, there will be hard work but great rewards to be achieved also.
Photos: Matthew Wings
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