Hat-trick Beckons Para-Dressage Rider

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Para-dressage rider Jodie Thorne and her horse San Mateo Tech Effects may be the 2013 Grade One Champions, but they're quick to say it's a team effort.

The Brit-turned-Kiwi web designer has FSH muscular dystrophy – it is a degenerative genetic condition that effects most of the muscles in her body and means she can’t lift her arms above her head or move her legs like you or me.

So it means preparing and riding her 16.1hh gentle giant Clydie cross Tech can be a challenge . . . and it’s one she just couldn’t do without the support of husband Darren, son James, mum Sue Dobson and a “great crew” of girls who help with lunging, warming up, riding, packing, and everything else that goes with horses and shows.

She and Darren travelled to New Zealand while university students, fell in love with the country, and moved here in 2004. Her parents soon followed.

Thirty-two-year-old Thorne runs her own web design business Wicked Eye from Tauranga.

She likes to ride three or four times a week, balancing it out with gym or exercises.

“I have to be careful not to do too much.”

Thorne says her condition has forced her to improve her core strength.

She has had Tech three years. He was a serving stallion until he was eight and is now 13. While he can be more than a little testing for others, Tech clearly adores his owner and does everything he says . . . well, almost everything.

“He has a bit of a stubborn streak sometimes, but so do I so we get on well,” says Thorne.

She has trained him to respond to her voice, whip and seat, making it easier for them when competing.

“He is an amazing horse all right. With a name like that, he was just meant for me!”

As a grade one rider, Thorne only rides at a walk, and says riding three tests in three days at HOY is exhausting.

But Thorne says she will ride for as long as she can.

“As long as I can sit in a saddle I will be riding.”

She’s hopeful of defending her title – which she has won twice before.

“Winning the grade at HOY last year was just awesome, and made even more special because we had to come into the main dressage arena for the presentation,” she says.

“I just love HOY. That atmosphere is incredible and it is what we build up to all year – the pinnacle of the season. It is a chance to watch and learn from everyone else.”

Tech hasn’t had a big lead in to the show though. He had an operation last year and has not long been back in work . . . but that won’t stop them enjoying the show.


PHOTO CREDIT: Rhiannon Moss, NZ Equine