A display of dressage to music by local rider Tom Dyer, 20, (pictured) is on Sunday, September 15 at Wilton branch of Riding for the Disabled, at 1pm.
Tom, who was born and brought up in Bowerchalke, is currently training for the National Dressage Para Team. He has been riding since he was three years old and spent about 14 years attending Wilton RDA. He rides every day, come rain or shine, and hopes to be in the 2024 Para Olympics dressage team.
Tom has two horses of this own but also trains with two borrowed horse. He spends one day a week at nearby SMS Equestrian, Fovant, run by Sarah Mitchell-Sheppard.
Tom also travels to Exmouth for training with Nina Venables, para-equestrian British Dressage accredited performance coach who joined the World Class Programme in 2005. Nina is the South West region trainer. Tom is already a Grade 3 Winner riding Henry XVII at Equissage Pulse Para Winter Championships at Myers-cough College, Lancashire, on February 21to 24.
Tom’s daily routine involves spending mornings with his horses, and in the afternoons, he runs his own little business as a tractor driver specialising in paddock maintenance for owners in nearby villages. His parents, who are both self-employed: his father is a landscape specialist and his mother runs an accountancy business. They are currently funding his bid to be an Olympian.
Tom said he suffered brain damage at birth which can often affect his memory. Unfortunately, he also suffers from epilepsy. He said he did well at school.
“But I can remember what I have to do in dressage competitions. I can remember all the moves very well,” he added. It takes 45 minutes to warm up and go through the competition test.”
The dressage test includes precise movements by the mount in response to the rider’s commands to walk, trot, canter and step at different paces and speeds.
Tom said about the sport: “You have to get yourself noticed by being out and about in championships and being a member of a team.”
He was invited to do the demonstration for Wilton RDA, perhaps to prove what can be achieved by disabled riders.
“I have a good horse and we have done well so far this year and I have two horses which have qualified,” he said.
Dressage competitions for riders with disabilities started in Scandinavia and Britain in the 1970s. The first dressage world championship was held in Sweden in 1987 and para-equestrian dressage riders first took part in the Paralympic Games in 1996.
From 2006, para-equestrian dressage became part of the FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale), making it an officially-recognised international equestrian sport.