A Rushden rider picked up tips from some of the best when she got the chance to train with athletes preparing for the Olympics.
At the beginning of the year two grassroots riders Sarah Hawkins, 42, and Charlotte Stockdale, 24, were chosen to train with the Brazilian Olympic eventing team as they prepared for London 2012.
The opportunity came from Scotts of Thrapston, the timber stable manufacturers, who have been running their Rider Development Programme, in conjunction with Carlton Horse Trials, for the past three years.
The programme was designed to educate those chosen on all aspects of competition, training alongside the Brazilian 2012 eventing team, with British Eventing accredited Trainers Nick Turner and Ann Bostock, who supported their dressage training.
The training also had a strong emphasis on improving focus and mental strength through a sports psychology workshop, held by Charlie Unwin as well as building their own fitness with personal trainer Greg Sellers.
Throughout the season they have been putting their new skills into practice, with the ultimate aim of showcasing how far they have come at Carlton Horse Trials, held last weekend while their Brazilian team mates started the dressage phase at Greenwich, London.
In preparation for the Carlton Horse Trials the riders enjoyed great success – Sarah won a class at Solihull with the best score across all three sections on the day.
Charlotte, of Rushden, also won on two occasions at a local showjumping and a dressage competition.
Sarah said: “Through the Scotts Development Programme I have been shown how to break my goals into manageable chunks, I set myself the following areas to focus on – keep my hands still and relaxed, maintain relaxation by concentrating on breathing exercises, drink water and eat regularly – Greg Sellers recommended eating fruit, nuts and seeds in our nutrition workshop as it is often hard to eat with nerves.”
Unfortunately Sarah’s horse sustained an injury - just like Piggy French, member of Team GBR who was winner of the Greenwich test event, and who lost her place on the team for the same reason.
Piggy and Sarah dealt with the disappointment and pulled themselves together to set about competing at Carlton on other horses.
Charlotte said: “Although I did not get placed at Carlton, there is no way I would have got my previous results and progressed like this without the Scotts training, I am delighted to have been given the opportunity.
“With horses you need to live the rough with the smooth, seeing Piggy competing at Carlton this weekend shows it happens at any level but the important part is having the guts to pick yourself up after adversity, it’s the people who can do this who will succeed in sport.”
For more information about the Scotts Riders scheme visit www.scottsofthrapstonblog.co.uk.