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BLOG: Para-equestrian Nicole Blanks' team is full steam ahead

Words and photos by Nicole Blanks

Apologies that it’s been a while since my last blog update. The end of 2015/start of 2016 was a rough time for me and it’s taken me a while to write about it. Unfortunately at the start of the year I came to the realisation that my Rio dream was over. With Vledder injuring himself last year and not going to be fit in time for the selection events, and not being able to find another suitable horse, I had no choice but to admit that it was over. To be honest, this has been really tough on me, to have worked so hard for 4 years for it to fall apart is really difficult. One thing I can take away from this is experience is that I did absolutely everything I could during the campaign, was that it wasn’t from a lack of hard work or determination, rather it was because of things outside my control. 


That’s the really hard part about this sport, there are so many uncontrollable factors. You can do absolutely everything within your power and still not get there. But the beauty of our sport is being able to work with such incredible animals.



Nicole Blanks and Wilfred at Boneo Blog May 2016



So where am I now? I’m currently completing the second last year of my medical degree, probably the most intense year, as well as trying to rebuild a team of horses to aim towards WEG in 2018 and Tokyo 2020. Vledder will be coming back into work soon and I can’t wait to be riding him again, as he really is my one in a million horse, and it’s such an honour to own him. I also have a couple of others who I am ticking along this year!


First of all is my young mare Louise who we have owned since she was 2 and broke her in late after she had a foal. Louise had a little bit of a boot camp in the lead up to the international para comp at Boneo Park in January where she did her first para comp and tried her heart out for me! She has since had a bit of a break while I was focusing on the start of this year at uni and will be coming back into full work in my winter break and I’ll be aiming for the nationals with her. 


I have also just started riding Louise’s 3yr old foal, Bambi. It’s the first time I’ve ridden a horse we have bred and it’s really special to be working with her when I’ve handled her since day 1! She’s currently having a couple of rides a week and I’ll just keep her ticking along for the rest of the year.



Nicole Blanks and Wilfred at Boneo Blog May 2016



Finally there is the newby Wilfred. We were fortunate enough to be put in contact with Wilfred’s owners Tahlia and Glenda a few months ago and it’s been a short but great journey since then! Wilfred is a super cool horse who is a very forward going, sensitive horse, which is great for me with my back. At the same he has such a good brain,  that when we had some materials delivered the other day with a crane right next door to the arena and he didn’t even blink!



Nicole Blanks and Wilfred at Boneo Blog May 2016




Since having Wilfred I’ve been working firstly on the basics and making sure that I have an effective half halt. Once that was installed we have been playing with a bit of lateral work and simple changes, working towards the para tests. On the weekend I took Wilfred to the VDC comp at Werribee where we did two novice tests, which were both really consistent tests. We also decided to have a play with the grade 4 team test as well. He was such a star finishing with a mistake free test and a score I was thrilled with! It will now be back to consolidating at home and hopefully we’ll be back out at the end of June in my uni holidays.



Nicole Blanks and Wilfred at Boneo Blog May 2016




I’m very fortunate to have the ongoing support of my sponsors, firstly Barastoc Horse Feeds who help keep my horses at their best. We had to clip Wilfred and I’m not really a fan of horses coats after being clipped, but Wilfred looks amazing! He loves his mix of Barastoc Feed’s Calm Performer and Cool Command. I was also fortunate enough to have Hamag offer to sponsor me at the end of last year. If you haven’t heard of Hamag, they produce the most beautiful handmade leather goods such as bridle numbers and gaiters and have been supporting the sport and young riders for many, many years! I was also fortunate enough to have Aengus of Musikur offer to support my journey. Aengus makes great freestyle music, which I have used all over the world!


I’m also incredibly grateful to my amazing family who are supporting me through all of this. This year at uni is incredibly tough, and I’ve some how managed to accumulate a few horses. Without my family’s support I wouldn’t be able to make this balancing act work!




Until next time!

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