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In the stable with Amelia White

Amelia White and Lotus © Photo supplied by Equestrian Australia

Amelia White and Genius.

© Photo supplied by Equestrian Australia

 

Amelia White is no stranger to defying the odds and looking to the future with resolve and determination.

The decorated academic, who originally hails from Western Sydney, has a story built on courage, drive and a passion for equestrian sport, which has never waivered, and has taken her across the globe.

Amelia has been named on the Equestrian Australia High Performance Next Squad 2019, which identifies emerging talent, and with her sights firmly set on future Paralympic Games it seems the path to the podium is her next goal.

How did you first become involved in Equestrian?

I started riding lessons at age eight. I had been begging my parents for a pony and after two relentless years, my Dad told me that if I was serious about riding, then I had to research everything I could find about horses before they would allow me to start.

I went to every library near home, borrowed books from friends and begged my parents to buy me the books I hadn’t been able to get my little hands on. It took six months – which at age 8 feels like a lifetime – but eventually I felt like I had held up my end of the bargain. I promptly told my parents one afternoon that I was ready to start riding lessons. My family was very non-horsey, and it was their way of making sure I was educated enough to take on the commitment of riding.

One rainy Saturday, they took me for my first ever riding lesson on a 20-something year-old pony, complete with bike helmet and school shoes in lieu of any real equestrian attire. I can remember grinning the entire time, before promptly telling anybody who would listen that I was now going to the Olympics. The single riding lesson turned into one after another and before long I was spending more time at the riding school then I did at home.

When did you get your first pony?

A year later I had my very own pony and we had traded the bike helmet for a proper riding helmet. My first love was showjumping, but I fell into eventing a few years later. I evented for a few years, mainly around NSW, and had managed to accumulate a few horses (much to my parent’s chagrin) before making the switch to Para-Dressage.

When did you start competing in Para-Dressage and what Grade are you classified?

I am a Grade V. I was involved in a near-fatal head-on motor vehicle accident in 2010, where I was hit by another car that was mistakenly on my side of the road. The driver bent down to pick up a cigarette and when he focused on the road again, he automatically steered on to the incorrect side and hit me just seconds later around a blind corner with a combined speed of more than 150km/h.

I had just turned 18, started at university and it completely changed the direction of my life. I sustained significant injuries to my legs, back, and other areas of my body including my hips, right shoulder and right wrist. The road to recovery was long, although I was able to return to riding for very short periods of time.

After a few years, and a few more operations, I was just returning to riding full-time when I was bucked off my young mare onto a concrete-like surface. The end result is a loss of movement and feeling in my left leg, knee, ankle and foot due to nerve damage, steel plates/pins and issues with tendons. I have reduced range of motion and feeling in my right wrist, which also has some steel pins, reduced mobility in my right shoulder, as well as issues with my spine due to the broken vertebrae.

 

Amelia White and Lotus © Photo supplied by Equestrian Australia

Amelia White and Genius.

© Photo supplied by Equestrian Australia

 

How long have you being competing in Para Dressage?

Actually, not very long! I started competing in Para-Dressage in 2015. My first competition was the Sydney CDI with my eventing mare. She unfortunately pulled a shoe days before the competition, and a
friend of mine lent me her Grand Prix horse for the show. He was a bit confused with the lack of piaffe in the test, and we managed a line of tempi’s instead of the simple changes!

A few months later, I came to Germany where I purchased a beautiful mare: Lotus. It was not love at first sight for either of us, but we trained every day and eventually made our International debut in 2016 at CPEDI*** Deauville. It was with Lotus that I made the long-list for the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

What do you do for a ‘day job’?

I am a full-time student. I graduated last year with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Criminology from the University of New England. I was offered a position to study a Masters in Law; majoring in Criminal Law and minoring in Biotechnology and Neuroscience Law.

I do this via Distance Education with approximately a year to go. I’d like to go on to do a PhD, and I’m making headway into completing the final components of my Practical Legal Training so I can be admitted to the Bar Association as a practicing lawyer. Outside of daily training and studying, I work for a German company, teaching business English to large corporations which is great, but I’m very time-poor and a bit of full-time stress head!

 

Amelia White and Lotus © Photo supplied by Equestrian Australia

Amelia White and Genius.

© Photo supplied by Equestrian Australia

 

You are based in Germany? How long have you been there?

I have a very close connection to Germany. My grandparents immigrated to Australia, and it took them a long time to learn English. Because of this, I grew up with a heavy German influence, and spent a lot of time with my Oma and Opa.

I officially moved at the end of 2015, for what was supposed to be a 6-month period. The idea behind it was to really learn the ins-and-outs of professional dressage, and maybe do a show or two to gain experience and improve my riding confidence.

The plan was to return to Australia in 2016, but nearly four years on and I’m still here! I am now based at the stable of Helen Langehanenberg, where I am fortunate enough to receive daily training. A lot of people ask me when I’m returning home to Australia, and the years just keep changing. The training is fantastic, and we are improving every day. It’s really hard to walk away when it’s going so well, and you’re presented with amazing opportunities so for the moment, I will stay based here.

I have learnt to love a lot of things about Germany, although Australia will always be home.

 

Amelia White and Lotus © Photo supplied by Equestrian Australia

Amelia White and Genius.

© Photo supplied by Equestrian Australia

 

How does it feel to be named on an Equestrian Australia High Performance Squad?

It was a goal I set for myself when I first started competing in Para-Dressage, so I’m thrilled to have achieved it. As a High Performance Squad member, I am able to get access to resources that I otherwise wouldn’t, so it’s been a huge bonus. Stef Maraun – the Para Equestrian High Performance Sports Coordinator– has been amazing at supporting both the Australian and overseas based athletes.

The High Performance staff always do their best to make sure I’m up to date with the current programs and plans back in Australia, they are just a phone call away!

What are your future goals?

Our goals for 2019 are centered on competing in international events, maintaining and improving upon our High Performance Squad position and working towards completing our first S Class test (Advanced level in Germany) in open competition.

Our long-term goals are very similar. Our aim is to become more competitive at the bigger shows, work on improving our scores and of course making a name for ourselves in the European Dressage world – which is easier said than done!

Source: Equestrian Australia

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