Dress-ed to impress

Para-equestrian rider Natasha Adkinson, from Bawtry, on Prince Charming.
Para-equestrian rider Natasha Adkinson, from Bawtry, on Prince Charming.

FUTURE Paralympian Natasha Adkinson is targeting glory at the British Dressage Para-Equestrian Winter Championships this weekend.

The 18-year-old rider from Bawtry has been suffering from a back complaint since she jarred it at the Young Rider International competition in August last year.

But the talented teenager made a winning start to 2012 by riding her competition horse Prince Charming to a double victory in her first competition of the year.

Adkinson (pictured) beat her nearest rival by a massive 16 per cent - with impressive scores of 75 per cent and 73.6 per cent - to celebrate a win double in both her classes at Kent’s Arrow Equestrian Centre earlier this month.

Now the Sheffield High School pupil is looking ahead to a busy year - and hopes to make a big impression on the British dressage stage at Vale View Equestrian Centre in Leicestershire this weekend.

She said: “I’d really been suffering with my back over Christmas, so I wasn’t holding out too much hope for a great start to the season.

“However, having trained ready for the competition, I was feeling very positive and confident about my goals.

“It couldn’t have gone better and now I’m really excited about the Winter Championships and the year ahead.”

Natasha, who has VACTERL syndrome and also Spina Bifida in her neck, is classified as a grade III rider.

She is a member of the British Equestrian Federation’s UK Sport funded World Class Development Programme, which works with talented riders to maximise their potential and deliver success.

The programme incorporates the three Olympic sports of dressage, eventing and showjumping - as well as the Paralympic sport of para-equestrian dressage in which Natasha has been tipped to reach the top.

Dressage is occasionally referred to as ‘Horse Ballet’.

The sport’s fundamental purpose is to develop a horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to perform various ‘tests’ which are then assessed by judges.