Big Year Ahead for Dixon

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Paralympian Anthea Dixon won't be at the 2014 NRM Horse of the Year Show . . . but she has a mighty good excuse.

As Anthea Gunner, she and Huntingdale Incognito – who in 2012 represented New Zealand at the London Paralympics – last year won the grade two title at HOY for the second consecutive time.

The 32-year-old won't be defending her title though because her big goal for the year is the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France.

She has been "popping back and forward" to Germany to ride her new horse Don Cartier.

"We are going really well," she says. "I rode him for the first time nearly a year ago and managed to get our Certificate of Capability (COC) at the two three star shows we competed at. We had only been in the saddle a few weeks, so it was really cool."

She returned in October for another month of training with Hayley Beresford, and at the end of March will be heading back for nine weeks.

A promotion to PA for the general southern manager for Courier Post has added to the juggle – but only in a good way.

"Aaron (my husband) and work are so incredibly supportive," she says.

Dixon, who has competed at HOY three times, says she will miss not being at the show.

"I always love HOY," she says, "but it is a financial decision this time round. My goal was always to win a rug, and while I won my first one in 2012, last year was special because we had three good scores across the tests."

It was also validation for Mask – Huntingdale Incognito.

"The consistency made me feel we had really kept on after London," she says. "That win came on the back of a pretty light season too."

She and Mask have been "pottering away" at home in recent months.

"He has done some able-bodied test in level one and we are finally getting this canter business sorted, thanks to Don (Don Cartier) teaching me while I was away. I tried for a while but was never strong enough to balance – well, to be honest, both Mask and I are unbalanced, so it is a real challenge!"

She is hopeful the two will work their way up to level two able-bodied next season.

It's a big year for Dixon, who was married in early January. When she heads to Germany in March, she is hoping she and Don Cartier will gain the marks required for her to be available for selection for WEG.

"We need to crack the 70% mark three times while we are there. When I rode him a year ago, a couple of judges had him on 66% so we are looking in the high 60s at least . . . but you never know. The horse is certainly very capable."

Dixon says she doesn't like to think too much about it just yet.

"The pressure will really be on during this trip."

But if there is anything that really makes Dixon lift her game, it's pressure . . . and lots of it!"


PHOTO CREDIT: Libby Law Photography