Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

BOP riders set for dressage competition

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HIGH HOPES: Tauranga rider Isabella Chatfield with her ponies AD Dennache, left, and Prima Bella. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
HIGH HOPES: Tauranga rider Isabella Chatfield with her ponies AD Dennache, left, and Prima Bella. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Dressage Bay of Plenty will host the 2016 Boeckmann North Island Dressage and Para-Equestrian Championships in Taupo from October 22-24.

More than 200 dressage combinations from all over the North Island will travel to the Fiber Fresh National Equestrian Centre in Taupo to compete for championship honours, from Level 1 through to Grand Prix as well as the Para Equestrian discipline.

Among a good representation of Western Bay riders are Isabella Chatfield and Jodie Thorne, who are looking forward to competing at different levels of competition.

Jodie is a multiple Grade 1A Para-Equestrian champion who will compete with her horse San Mateo Tech Effects while Bethlehem College student Isabella will ride her ponies Prima Bella and AD Dennache.

Isabella, 13, began riding aged 5 at Tauranga Pony Club and now specialises in dressage. Both her ponies are imported from Europe with pedigree bloodlines.

Isabella won several regional and national championships with Prima Bella last season in Level 2 and this year they have stepped up to Level 3.

She and Prima Bella have been selected by Equestrian Sports New Zealand to compete at the World Dressage Challenge in Manfeild in the Junior division after Taupo.

"Prima Bella was my first dressage pony and she has taught me so much. Bella always tries her very best for me and has rewarded me with so many wins and lifetime memories," Isabella said.

"AD Dennache (Danny) is our young pony and he is really talented. This is his first season competing in registered dressage and he feels amazing to ride."

Isabella said she loved the challenge of getting all the movements correct and moving up the leader board competitively, especially when riding against adults.

"It's great to win overall but it's also really rewarding to beat yourself from your last percentage, so I focus on that mostly so I can keep improving my scores.

"I'm not sure how well I will do overall as I have stepped up a level and it's a lot to learn early in the season. I will hope to beat my personal percentages and for some placing in the top six."

For Jodie, suffering from facioscapularhumeral muscular dystrophy means she is limited to walk-only dressage.

But that does not stop her setting high goals for what she hopes to achieve, with the Paralympics the ultimate goal.

She has a wonderful partnership with her remarkably intuitive horse San Mateo Tech Effects, who she has been with since she took up Para-Equestrian riding five years ago.

"I am in a wheelchair 90 per cent of the time and all of my limbs are affected. There are five grades in para and I am in the most severe grade," Jodie said.

"Para-Equestrian is quite a growing sport in New Zealand. I am the only one in my grade competing in Taupo and one of my goals this year is to hit 70 per cent and stay there.

"If we want to compete internationally in the future then that is where I need to be."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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