Beci Equi are super proud to announce our latest Brand Ambassador, Para Dressage rider, Amelia White. Based in Germany, Amelia shows a level of determination, dedication and absolute persistence against all odds to achieve her goals.
We spoke to Amelia a couple of weeks ago about her journey so far...
You've just got back to Germany after a little holiday back with your family in Australia...What is it like living, working and riding on the other side of the world?
In a word? It's amazing. But it's also incredibly tough, competitive and daunting. I always say I both love it and hate it. It's especially hard when I return from Australia, because I say goodbye to my friends and family for another long time apart.
It is THE place to be for riding, and you get opportunities that are once in a lifetime - but they come at a price. I think you really have highs and then some very low lows.
I've been here for nearly four years now, and it's more home for me than Australia now. I have mixed feelings about it, but it is how it is. I really love my riding, and training everyday with the best in the world is always a fantastic feeling.
You are based with German Olympic rider, Helen Lagenhanenberg, what an amazing person to learn from! What's it like training with Helen?
I'm incredibly lucky to have this opportunity with Helen. She's an extremely approachable, friendly person that has a wealth of knowledge and experience. She's a tough trainer, and not afraid to tell you that you're doing it wrong. I like that in a trainer. I feel like you don't have training for someone to point out what you're good at, but instead to work on the things that need improvement. Helen also rewards what you do correctly, which is something I also love.
She is a very horse focussed trainer; the welfare of the horse always comes first. You have to ride well enough for the horse you are sitting on...and that was a tough lesson for me to learn in the beginning.
I am taught in German as well, so there were a few teething issues whilst we figured out what each other wanted! I had to learn quite a few new words, and I'm learning more everyday.
Your horse looks absolutely gorgeous...tell us about him?
Thank you! Genius is relatively new to me. I purchased him in March this year, and it has been a huge learning curve.
Genius is a KWPN gelding by Blue Hors Romanov out of a mare by Blue Hors Don Schufro. He is absolutely HUGE, standing just over 1.80m and is 8 years old.
He is incredibly cheeky, loving and gentle. He earns extremely quickly, although we are still trying to work out flying changes!
Genius requires a lot of strength and coordination to ride - not because he is strong, but purely due to his size and massive movement. I lost 8kg when I began training him as I had to work so hard to keep in balance with such a big horse.
I am very lucky to have him, and I absolutely love seeing the progress we have made in such a short time.
Far out...he does sound amazing...and HUGE! Do you have to do any other kind of strength and conditioning training to keep up with him?
The correct answer to that would be yes! But in reality, life sometimes gets in the way.
I actually promised myself when I tried him and subsequently decided to buy him, that I would step up my game to be the fittest that I could be.
I do extra cardio 3 - 4 times a week and strength training at home 4-5 times a week when I can fit it in around work, training and study. I do absolutely stretch and do Pilates every day as I need to keep myself as supple as possible.
Aside from that, I'm very mindful of nutrition and drinking enough water...as I tend to live on Coffee!
I think people underestimate the importance of rider fitness...still, it must be a daily challenge, given the extent of the physical trauma you have suffered in the past. Can you tell us what happened and how it affects your riding?
I was involved in a head on car accident in 2010. Another driver, from Canada, mistakenly drove on the wrong side of the road and hit me head on around a blind corner at a combined speed of more than 150km/hr.
I spent the next two years in and out of a wheelchair, on crutches and in braces. The list of injuries were extensive, and Doctors were still finding broken bones up to a year after the accident.
It took me a long time to recover to the point where I can ride at the level I can now...at least six years. I have had multiple set backs with surgeries and injuries that came as a result of me pushing myself too far in the saddle.
Even now, I have days that are harder than others. I have limited function of my left leg, missing tendons, replaced tendons, pins, plates and screws as well as nerve damage to my left leg, right hip and right hand and wrist. I fractured my back in six places too. This is also a constant source of pain, stiffness and discomfort when riding.
It's not all bad though! I'm still able to ride, and I'm extremely grateful to be able to ride at this level.
I love that even though you have suffered something so traumatic, you remain positive and grateful...your family must be so proud of you!
I definitely learnt my positivity from my family. They always, always told me throughout my recovery that one day I would make it to where I wanted to be. They still tell me that, and it helps me get through some difficult days.
My husband is also incredibly supportive, and although the long distance is rather tough, we do alright. We've been married for nearly two years already, and together for nine. He is not 'horsey' by any stretch, but adores Genius and loves watching our progress.
My parents have supported me from day one, and the relentless "Dad I want a pony" finally paid off! My parents helped me a lot in the beginning of my career over here, and it was really very hard to wave goodbye to them as they flew back to Australia after getting me settled in. They visit once a year and they work a lot of overtime to buy things for Genius as that's what they love to do!
My brother is my secret supporter as well - although he won't admit that!
I guess they (and you) were stoked about the fact that you were named on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Long List?
Yes! It is a really positive step toward the end goal. The whole team (my husband, parents and family plus the team here in Germany) work incredibly hard. It was so nice to see my name on that list!
The qualifying period for 2019 has ended here in Europe, so we are spending the winter training hard in preparation for the first qualifier next year in April at CPEDI*** Deauville (France).
The long list is for any rider/horse combination that has achieved a qualifying score in 2019 at a designated qualifier - either more than 67% in the team/individual test or over 70% in the Freestyle.
A short list will be named early next year for combinations that have clear potential to be selected for the team that goes to Tokyo.
How exciting! I am personally very happy that you have joined the #BECIEQUISQUAD as a Brand Ambassador...I guess by now you have a favourite outfit?
Absolutely! I really love the Little Black Base Layer combined with my Denim Skintights. For Europe, layers are the key, and I love how flexible and lightweight this combination is.
I love the thermal qualities of the Base Layer...it keeps me feeling comfortably snug when I'm riding, and is great because it's not too bulky. The Denim is really nice and sticky (I need this for Genius!) and are so stylish...everybody asks me about them!
Totally loving the new Chiquita tee as well!
Winter is well and truly on it's way in Germany now, will you do many more shows for the rest of the year?
Sadly, the cooler weather here literally is FREEZING.
I have had a couple of competitions very recently, where we smashed goals and had some great comments from the judges. The winter indoor show season is well under way here, and I have a couple more to do before a short break over Christmas.
Genius gets a little Christmas holiday with light work over the festive period before we crank things up again in the new year.
Make sure you keep us up to date with all of your competition results and news! Where can we see all of your pics and news?
You can follow me via Instagram @amelia.a.white, on Facebook under AMELIA WHITE EQUESTRIAN and my website www.awequestrian.com
Many thanks to Amelia for taking time out of her super busy schedule to talk to us. Photos courtesy of Amelia White Equestrian.