Emma’s story – an update

Written by PayPlan on 30 May 2013

Earlier this year we shared the story of Emma Sheardown, the para equestrian dressage rider from Grantham, who is also a member of our marketing team. Here Emma gives an update on her latest successes.

I can’t believe where the year is going! It’s May already and I have all the winter and previous summer qualifying competitions behind me, as well as a successful international competition in Deauville, France.

My horse, Eddie, and I have achieved many 70% plus scores over the spring, which will hopefully set us in good stead for this year’s European selection. Our trip to Deauville saw a win for us and the team – which was great news.

I have been based with my trainer Angela Weiss for exactly one year now and in that time I can’t believe how both Eddie and I have improved.  In a way we have started again from scratch – sometimes you have to take a step backwards to make everything more solid and take an even bigger step forward.

This has required a lot of work and attention to detail, both on and off the horse. Something that I constantly have to work on is improving my strength. Having Cerebral Palsy, the challenge has been even greater but, having said that, all this focus and work on my body has improved my physical ability too – for example my walking.

I am extremely lucky and privileged to also have my friend and Paralympic Gold and Silver medallist, Sophie Wells, ride Eddie too.

I really love my riding and the way of life that goes with it. As with all areas of life, the question of money and finance lingers so readily. Being on the World Class Performance Programme I receive Lottery funding as part of UK Sport, but this is reliant on winning medals at major championships such as Europeans, World and Paralympic Games.

At the moment, because I didn’t make it to London 2012, I am on the lowest level of funding. This is still a big help with the costs incurred in keeping my horse and myself in training, but giving the care my horse needs as a top class athlete it can sometimes stretch this income.

I am currently looking for a second horse as Eddie is fifteen and will sadly be too old to compete at the next Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

In order to be able to look after and train two horses I am currently looking to attract some sponsors who would be willing to support me in my quest to get to Rio.

There are also many costs incurred in keeping the horses healthy, these include six-weekly farrier visits, equine physio every two months, as well as twice yearly visits by the equine dentist and the vet for vaccinations. All of these costs will double with a second horse.

My weekly lesson and schooling bill for my current squad horse is covered by my squad athlete personal allowance, however, with two horses I will need to cover some of the cost myself.

One thing I have started to do, to help reduce costs, is to stay over-night in my lorry rather than making the journey home. Obviously a big cost that we all face is the rising price of fuel, so staying over a couple of nights helps to cut down on expensive journeys.

Now I have a busy six weeks ahead of me. There are two main selection trials for the European Championships in Denmark in August. Also the Para Summer Championships are held in June and there is an international competition in July. They all play an important role in the selection process.

Alongside my riding commitments I am continuing to enjoy working a few hours each week at Payplan, in the marketing team. I research and write blogs, which is something I really enjoy. It goes hand-in-hand with a journalism course I am doing. I have to admit that I find it difficult to fit my assignments around full time riding, but working for Payplan is proving to be a great experience.

In terms of my riding, attracting potential sponsors is an extremely difficult task. I have been lucky that my two newest sponsors, Blue Chip feed and Bliss Saddles, have come via recommendation. However, particularly with the current economic climate, asking for money does not sit comfortably with me.

Over the last few years I have been lucky to receive support from local businesses leading up to the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Now the task is attracting the next group of sponsors so I can achieve my goal of keeping and training a new horse and competing in Rio.

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This article was checked and deemed to be correct as at the above publication date, but please be aware that some things may have changed between then and now. So please don't rely on any of this information as a statement of fact, especially if the article was published some time ago.

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