Two talented Hartpury riders will have the opportunity to step their equestrian skills up several gears after winning an exciting ‘mentorship’ with a Great Britain Paralympian.
Ella Slowley, 18, from Berkeley in Gloucestershire, and Hope Hayward, 22, from Glastonbury will be working with Natasha Baker, MBE – the Para Dressage rider who won two gold medals for Britain in the London 2012 Paralympic and five-time European Para-Dressage Champion.
While Ella is on the second year of a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Horse Management (business), Hope is in the final year of a BSc (Hons) degree in Equine Management.
Natasha said: “I am so thrilled at the idea of working with talented young riders to help them reach their full potential. It would be a dream come true if I could inspire others to fulfil their dreams and aspirations. I am very excited at the prospect of being able to pass on some of my knowledge.”
The mentorship opportunity came about through a competition run by Jo Hansford Photography, offering three young riders from the South West mentoring sessions with Natasha, a personalised photo shoot with their horse and a branded gilet and rug.
Hope said: “Words cannot describe how over the moon I was when I found out that I was one of the three winners. I am really looking forward to the one-to-one mentoring with Natasha.
"As I am a grade IV para dressage rider, I have had the opportunity to watch Natasha compete on a few occasions. I have massive admiration for her riding ability but also her capacity to remain calm under pressure; she always looks like she is enjoying herself whilst at competitions.
“I am really hoping to get some guidance about competition nerves and how to cope with the pressure of important competitions. I also want some advice on the progression from national to international level and tips on how to perform a good freestyle test. I can’t wait to get started.”
Ella said: "I am really excited for what the next year has to offer. I am really happy that I have been chosen as one of the sponsored young riders, and I am really looking forward to the mentoring with Natasha Baker.”
Natasha, 25, is currently aiming for the Rio 2016 Paralympics and she is the new Patron of the Cotswold Riding for the Disabled charity. You can find out more at www.natashabaker.com