Gayle hopes for dressage success at disabled championship event

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Horsewoman Gayle Bloomfield is preparing for her first major competition of the year at this weekend’s Nirvana Spa British Dressage Para Winter Championships.

Gayle and her mare Lucca are among only a handful of horses and riders to have qualified for both the restricted and the open classes at the competition, being held at Vale View Equestrian Centre in Leicestershire.

She is hoping to gain valuable points towards qualification for this summer’s KBIS Gold Championships semi-final at Wellington Premier League in Hampshire with Lucca, owned by her friend Rachel Callaghan.

Gayle, of Seahouses, is based at the Pegasus Centre at Tranwell, the home of Morpeth Riding for the Disabled Association, and she qualified for this weekend’s event at tcompetitions at Holmside Hall Equestrian Centre in Durham, Bishop Burton College in East Yorkshire and Myerscough College in Lancashire last year.

She won the restricted class at the para dressage winter championships in 2012.

The mum of two hasn’t allowed being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis to hold her back from becoming a top rider and has represented Great Britain, in Hong Kong in 2012.

Gayle received a boost in the lead-up to this weekend’s competition as Thinford Saddlery in Durham has sponsored her new Charles Owen leather-look Ayr8 hat.

She said: “I’m really looking forward to competing at the para dressage winter championships, and I’m really pleased with how Lucca has been doing in training.

“In para dressage, the rider is assessed for mobility, strength and co-ordination in order to establish their classification profile.

“Grade 1a is the most severely impaired rider, and grade 4 is the least impaired.

“Riders are split like this so competitors with similar loss of function and disability compete in the same grade.

“As I was a grade 2 rider when we qualified for the para dressage winter championships, I will compete in that grade this weekend.

“However, my international classification has now changed to grade 1b, so I will also be doing the qualifier classes for that grade at the competition in the hope that I gain valuable points towards the summer KBIS gold championships semi-final.”

Gayle is a role model to dozens of disabled youngsters from all over Northumberland who enjoy horse-riding at the Pegasus Centre.

Sam Orde, national chairman of the Riding for the Disabled Association and a member of its Morpeth group, said: “We at the Pegasus Centre are thrilled that Gayle has qualified for the British Dressage para festival in not just one, but two classes.

“Gayle is a great inspiration to upcoming disabled riders, and we wish her the best of luck. She certainly deserves to do well as not only is she a brilliant rider, but her commitment is 100 per cent, and her attitude and smile brighten up the day whenever you see her.”