29 04 2008

Nicola finds a new partner for Beijing

April 29, 2008 by Anwen Francis, Western Mail



Welsh dressage star Nicola Tustain has started her Beijing Paralympic campaign in earnest.

After Prinz Heinrich went lame last year, the 30-year-old rider was forced to undertake a worldwide search for a new horse.

Having teamed up with Rivaldo of Berkeley only last November, Tustain is already reaping the rewards of the new partnership. Last weekend, she seized her first victory with the nine-year-old Oldenburg at the Para Spring Championship Qualifier at Vale View Equestrian Centre, Leicestershire.

The accomplished sports-woman from Corwen – who boasts a whole host of medals from previous Paralympic Games – took 78.5%, which was 5% more than the second place finish. The points were all-important as the event formed part of the selection process for the Games in Beijing.

“I’m really pleased as we have been working really hard to maintain a consistent partnership. I’m headed to Manheim in Germany next month for a Para Equestrian event. These events are really crucial, as selectors will be keeping a keen eye on the riders,” she explains.

“My success at Vale View has given me a confidence boost. We have worked very hard and things are starting to pay off for us. He is producing some really good work and our marks are proving it. There is still room for improvement though.”

Tustain is a competitor in freestyle and dressage – a type of competition in which judges award points for the performance of the horse and rider in a series of movements, testing the rider’s control and the horse’s training.

The 30-year-old rider is paralysed down the right-hand side of her body. This means that she must ride without stirrups and with just one hand on the reins. She also has spasms down her right side due to a condition called dystonia.

She is supported by the National Lottery and has also secured the support of a principal sponsor, The Berkeley Group. She is also supported by Ariat and Albion Saddlemakers.




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