Natalie South on her pathway to fulfilling Paralympic dream
Natalie South first took up horse riding when she was 5 years old. It was recommended to her by her physio to help improve balance and leg strength. She started at a Riding for the Disabled (RDA) Centre, using the riding as a form of physio, then moved to an able bodied centre.
Natalie states; “It has helped me (as predicted!) with my balance, improving my core strength, and also with my leg strength and tone.”
Around three years ago, Natalie wanted to progress more with her riding and wanted to look to compete. She approached Deborah Hall at Chigwell Riding Trust, an RDA group (the first in the world) who let her join the riding school, where the class focused on para-dressage and competing.
Since joining, Natalie has won her region’s RDA qualifiers twice, and progressed on to place both times that she has attended the RDA National Championships.
More recently, Natalie applied for, and was accepted onto the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) Para Equestrian Entry Programme. The programme assists riders to progress from RDA to Para Equestrian competitions, providing a number of training sessions a year. It helps riders to move onto the more advanced talent pathway schemes, leading on the BEF Excel Talent Programme.
Natalie is hoping that she will be able to utilise the programme to help her to get further with her equestrian dreams of eventually being picked to represent Team GB internationally.
Natalie reflects on how riding has helped her as a therapy; “I cannot recommend horse riding enough. It’s physical benefits are endless, but also the mental benefits. Just being around the horses and interacting with them can be a very cathartic experience.”