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BLOG: Emma Booth takes us to Sydney for her final Rio selection event

Words and photos by Emma Booth




Well our final Australian Selection Event for Rio is finished and I couldn’t be happier with where Zidane and I are sitting. We are currently ranked 1st out of all Australian riders, across all grades. Now we wait and see if we can hold onto our position while the Australian riders based in Europe finish their campaign, and hope that we are announced on the team for Rio at the end of May. 


Sydney was the third and final selection event here in Australia and what an amazing event it was. We made the trip up on Monday the 4th April, before competing in our Team Test on Wednesday the 6th. Zidane travelled beautifully and settled in extremely well. He is such a laid back horse and not a lot seems to bother or stress him which is a real bonus when travelling. It is nice having such faith in the people making the trip with you. My groom, Shahira Ameen is always on top of how everything is going and makes sure things are smooth sailing. It also doesn’t hurt having the expertise of my coach, Lone Jorgensen whenever it is necessary, with whatever advice, queries or tips we might need.



Emma Booth May Blog



On Wednesday we had our Team Test which went very well. Zidane was feeling great and we pulled off a nice, safe test. We did have a few simple mistakes like quarters swinging on the centre line halts, but had some really decent trot work and nice relaxed movements at the walk. We scored 73.088% which put us in first position. It’s always interesting getting your test sheets back, reading the judges comments and seeing their overall impressions. Especially with the same judges scoring your test the next day, it is always good to take on board what has been said and to aim to improve on this for your next test. Obviously you’re not going to change anything too dramatically overnight, but all judges have slightly different views, so it is good to see what they like and don’t like about your test, and keep it in mind for the next day. For example, one of the judges scored me a 7 for my free walk in the first test, commenting that it could have more over track. So in my second test I tried to give a little more with the rein and touched Zidanes hind leg with the whip a few times to get more purpose out of his walk, and in this test we scored an 8 from the same judge. It isn’t a huge difference but this could easily mean the difference between first and second place.



Emma Booth May Blog



On Thursday we rode the Individual Championship Test and this felt absolutely amazing! Zidane was totally on his game, listening and trying his absolute heart out. I was nothing but smiles when I left the arena. We scored 74.190% for this test and again came first. I was super pleased with my boy; I love this horse to bits!! With all of my qualifying tests for Rio done, I was able to end the night having dinner with family and friends, enjoying a nice glass of wine. 



Emma Booth May Blog



The Thursday of competition in Sydney was also the three year anniversary of my accident. This was a strange feeling for me as my emotions were very conflicted. On one hand I was upset and confused at the thought of my accident which has led to my life now being in a wheelchair, but on the other hand I was completing my final selection event for the Rio Paralympics, on an amazing horse with a wonderful support crew. I finished this day knowing that I was ranked 1st in the country and that all my hard work had paid off. If I had to pick somewhere to spend the anniversary of my accident, it would be exactly where I spent it, doing what I love!


Unfortunately with spinal cord injury comes nerve pain, and this is something that I have to manage from time to time. Anyone that has had experience with nerve pain will know that it can be horrendously painful, and that sometimes it is extremely persistent. On Friday my nerve pain started and progressively got worse before the day ended. I spent all of Friday night awake in pain, and by Saturday morning I was a mess. My temperature was through the roof, my body was physically exhausted from constantly shaking and tensing, I was physically sick and to top it off I couldn’t sit up without nearly passing out. It was my mum and support crew who made the decision for me not to ride my Freestyle on Saturday afternoon, as I wasn’t willing to admit out loud that I was unable to ride. Looking back this was an extremely wise decision as I got worse before I got better. It also was not worth putting myself at risk of injury or performing poorly as the freestyle score doesn’t count towards my Rio selection. So although it would have been fun to do, it just wasn’t in the books for me this time round. 



Emma Booth May Blog



We made the trip back to Melbourne on the Sunday, arrived safely on Sunday night and made sure Zidane was happy and settled well. It took me a few days to fully recover but I am now completely back on track. Zidane is lightly ticking over at the moment, ready for our work to be ramped up should we be announced on the Rio Team towards the end of this month. Keep your fingers crossed for me and I will keep the updates coming.


Thanks again to everyone for the huge amounts of support. I received many donations through my website www.ridewithnolimits.comduring and after my time in Sydney and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

Emma Booth May Blog










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