Dressage and Para-dressage on the Card for Watts

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Para-dressage grade three HOY champ Anne Watts has her heart set on back to back victories.

But the rider from Karaka knows it is going to be tough to head off her biggest competition in the grade – paralympian Rachel Stock.

In 2012 Stock took the title, with Watts reserve. Last year Watts had the edge at HOY, but just recently, Stock just headed her home to take the grade three title at national champs.

“We keep each other on our marks.” says Watts, who was badly injured in a hunting accident three years ago.

It left her as a tetraplegic incomplete – which means she is not totally paralysed but has slow reaction time.

“I don’t use my legs much when I ride now, but instead have two whips. That 2013 win was very special. I have been working very hard, so am heading to HOY ready to defend it! It is enjoyable to have that kind of competition.”

Watts will defend her title aboard Craighaven Allanon, a 19-year-old horse owned by her mother Shirley Watts.

“Mum trained him and got him to level five able-bodied, and she is supposed to come and work him for me but is sometimes just too interested in gardens and having coffee . . . she is also on two A and P committees as well as the Auckland Manukau Dressage Committee so is pretty busy.”

Watts lives on a dairy farm where she has two dressage horses, a youngster and a 10hh pony who while is meant to be there for her partner’s grandchildren, also pulls a carriage which is her ticket back on the hunting field.

“I follow the hunt in the carriage. We frighten everyone to start with but they soon get used to it.”

She’s been doing that for two seasons now, and is looking forward to the start of the Pakuranga Hunt season.

As well as para-dressage, Watts will compete in level five able-bodied with both Craighaven Allanon and 13-year-old DJK Cashmere, with whom she will also do saddle hunter showing classes.

Watts has been a competitor at HOY for many years, and earlier picked up two Park Hack of the Year titles.