PARA DRESSAGE RIDER EMMA SHEARDOWN SHARES HER DAILY ROUTINE AND MENATL PREPARATION


Emma Hicksead-1 
Q1. You are profiled as a grade 1A rider which ranks as being at the severe end of the disability range. What levels of movements are you required to perform during your tests?
A. As a Grade 1 A rider I ride all of my tests at walk. This means that I am required to maintain the rhythm, activity and quality of the walk throughout the test.
The movements required at this grade, are:
- 10m Circles
- 8m Circles
- Serpentines
- ¬? 20m Circle right - Halt at 'X' - ¬? 20m Circle left
- Free-Walk
Q2. Describe a normal training day.
A. My training involves number areas that all play an important part to my success.
A typical day involves –
- Riding - 30 -45 mins  (I only have one horse currently)
- Biomechanics work - 15 - 20 mins - First thing in the morning
- Strength and Conditioning work - 15 - 20 mins Gym Ball or Bench work
- Gym (3 times a week) - 45 mins - I work on the
- Bike, Rowing Machine (for Cardiovascular fitness) and the Lat Pull Down
- I also spend time doing my training diaries, for all of the above areas to record progress and things for improvement
Q3. Physiotherapy plays an important part in your preparation, what kind of exercises do you focus on and how often?
A. From a physiotherapy point of view, I visit the Equestrian Team GBR Physiotherapist to have my hips loosened off. Because off my disability my hips can get tight this restricts my movement in the saddle. Therefore, it is important that I have my hips loosened on a regular basis to keep me moving freely in the saddle
My biomechanics work, works hand in hand with my physiotherapy sessions to keep everything moving freely. 
Q4. Explain about Biomechanics and how it has benefited your riding?
A. I can only speak highly of my biomechanics work!!! I first met Teresa Dixon in November of last year and since meeting Teresa and beginning my routine of daily exercises the change in my riding, as well as my general physical development has been incredible!
Each day I perform six gentle exercises that are all to do with posture and core control, these include: Pelvic Tilt, Seated Roll Down, Spine Twist, Side Bends, Shoulder Exercises and Breathing control
From a general physical development point of view, I keep getting lots of positive feedback from various people who comment on my improved straightness when I am standing. I also think that I find it easier to walk as I feel in more control of my walking.
From a riding prospective, I am sitting much taller and more centrally in the saddle and my position is much more stable. This means that I can use my aids much more easily and independently, which means that there use is much more effective. 
Q5. How much mental preparation is involved in training?
A. Mental preparation plays an extremely important part - and is the key between a bad result and a winning result. It is extremely important to analyse your performances, whether it be in training or at a competition. It is important to evaluate your performance with a fine toothcomb and pick up on anything mentally or physically which could affect or improve your performance and act upon them.  
Q6. Has it always been your dream to compete at the Olympics?

Emma Hickstead-3 
A. I have always ridden (I first sat on a pony at the age of 2) and rode primarily   as a therapy throughout my childhood. But by my late teens I was keen to develop my riding further and was frustrated with what my disability was preventing me from doing. It was at this point that my trainer Karen Thompson introduced me to dressage, in the form of RDA dressage. We then discovered Para Dressage and the BEF's World Class Programme and after being selected onto the World Class Development Programme in 2004, I soon became hooked and competing at the Paralympic Games became an ambition!!! Having 2012 in London made it an even bigger goal to strive towards!!!
Q7. Tell us about Purdy's Dream...
A. Purdy's Dream or Eddie as he is also known is a 17hh, Warmblood Gelding   and is now 13 years old. Eddie is Lincolnshire born and bred as he was bred by Mr Graham Worrell at Gate Burton near Gainsborough. Eddie has had quite an eventful life - when he was born he had a difficult birth being breech born, so he was brought to life by having a bucket of water thrown over his head to 'kick-start' him. As a result of Eddie jumping out of his field over a 5-bar gate he then spent 6 weeks at John Whittaker's yard to tests his jumping skills, but was deemed not to be bold enough to make it in the show jumping world. Graham eventually sold Eddie at the age of 6.
In February 2008, after buying a horse from Belgium that didn't work out, Karen spotted Eddie for sale on our local tack shop notice board (Chandlers of Belton). The advert we felt gave us a nice impression and as he was at a yard not far away, at Edenham near Bourne, we thought that it was worth paying him a visit. The rest as they say is history..... We felt that his good walk and seemingly good temperament made him worth a go.
Eddie is a very, very special horse; he has a super temperament and really does look after me - both when I am riding and on the ground!! On more than one occasion when I have been riding him and something has spooked him, I have lost my balance and fallen onto his neck - Eddie has stopped absolutely dead and waited for somebody to come and help me sit back up!! - A lot of horses would run!!
He will always have a special place in my heart - as it has been Eddie that has got me onto my first Championship teams an won my first Medals.  
Q8. What competition day tips can you share with us?
A. Be organised - it is important on a competition day to be organised, both   with timings (arriving, warm-up, etc) and with making sure everything is in its place and prepared - this reduces any cause for stress.
Adopt a good routine - By adopting a good routine that suits yourself helps you get into the right frame of mind for performing well
Q9. How do you handle nerves?
A. I handle nerves by making sure that I am organised, stick to my routine   and focusing on myself and my horse, rather than on the outcome of the competition. 
Q10. You obviously have a great team around you, tell us about them?
 
      A.  I am extremely lucky to have a committed team....
Karen Thompson - I first started riding with Karen when I was 7 years old as Karen runs my local RDA group. Karen has been a great support for the past 8 years, and has been instrumental in getting my career off the ground from being an RDA rider to becoming European and World Champion!

Angela Weiss - I first started training with Angela in 2005 when she became coach on the World Class Development Programme, but I now train with her on a weekly basis. Angela has been influential in getting me to the next level of my training and to my World and European success.

Nicky Webber - Nicky has worked with me since 2005 in her role of groom / carer. Nicky plays a vital role in helping me in my day to day training as well as the day to day care / management of Eddie. She also has a very important role at competitions, where she acts as my groom / carer. This involves helping me with my warm-up exercises prior to riding. 
 
Visit http://www.emmasheardown.co.uk/ and find out more. 
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