Ilse Taylor Owen is an eighteen year old Para Equestrian and member of the British Equestrian Federation Excel Talent Development Programme Para-Dressage Squad sponsored by Sport England. Ilse represented GBR in her first International Competition at Bishop Burton in 2017. This is her story.
I was born in the Netherlands in 2001 with Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy (RH) and so, as a competitive equestrian, I am classified as a Grade IV Para- Dressage Rider for 2017 under the new FEI grades.
Having always loved horses, at the age of 6 I began riding a pony with my friends at a nearby farm, but did not begin dressage until I moved to the UK when I was 10. My physiotherapist recommended that I start riding again and she pointed me at the local RDA as a great place to help with my physical development.
RDA was the best physio advice I have ever had!
I joined South Bucks RDA and was fortunate to have lessons with Clive Milkins who was also coaching Paralympic Gold Medalist Sophie Christiansen at that time. I am very competitive by nature, so the opportunity to compete at something I loved was perfect for me, and the bonus of watching Sophie train in the same school that I was riding in, showed me what was possible with hard work and determination. After all, it was 2012!
It was impossible not to be inspired by London 2012 when it was happening all around you
I was riding just once a week then but started competing at Regional and National level. At 13 I won the under seventeen Grade III Junior Class of the RDA Championships at Hartpury College. This qualified me to apply for the British Equestrian Federation Excel Talent Programme at the youngest possible age and I was successful in gaining a place on the Para Squad. RDA was a great introduction to dressage and a great foundation, the BEF Excel Programme was my next stage of development and the opportunity to learn more and compete more.
I really enjoyed my time at South Bucks and am really grateful for the support of everyone there
Unfortunately, my RDA pony went lame just before the RDA Nationals, but this turned into an opportunity. It was time to step up and I was loaned an experienced advanced medium mare that I had to learn a great deal on very quickly. It worked and I won the Nationals on her. But then I lost the use of her too, shortly after I was accepted onto the Excel program. This was a challenging time as I was on a national programme with no horse to ride, and squad sessions on foot are not the greatest experiences. After trying out lots of different options around the country, and even loaning one for a while, I was lucky to find Aslan who my parents managed to secure for me. This experience taught me a lot about of how to deal with change and ride new and different horses.
Adversity really helped me mature as a person and develop as a rider
We are not a ‘horsey’ family and I am the only equestrian in it, so my mum and dad have had to learn with me, working together as a team, developing our knowledge and ability together. My younger brother and sister also spend a fair amount of their time on the yard or at competitions with me, so the whole family gives up their time and contributes to my development. Having the right professional help is obviously important and finding a new horse also meant finding a new place to be based and a new coach to get the best balance for my development. I was very fortunate to gain the support of Paralympic Coach and Trainer Sacha Hamilton for the next stage of my development and am now training with Stephen Moore and Donna Hughes at her yard on Sedges Farm.
The BEF Excel Programme gives me great support and has broadened my understanding and experience
I attend regular squad training sessions and he programme provides me with the support of a mentor, riding coach, strength and conditioning trainer, sports psychologist, physiotherapist, nutritionists, farrier, saddler, vet and even bio-mechanic, from all of which I benefit greatly and for which I am very very grateful. Without the support of the Programme and its’ funding by Sport England and the National Lottery, none of this help would be possible. It’s really great preparation for the next stage of my development. My school is also very supportive in letting me participate in the Programme and be released for squad training and competitions when necessary.
2017 was my first full competative Winter and Summer seasons, competing in the British Dressage Para Winter and Summer National Championships, the Home International and representing GBR in my first CPEDI 2* International Competition. I became a Brand Ambassador for Equilibrium Products, was also been reselected for my second BEF Excel Talent Programme, where I am still the youngest rider.
In 2018 a represented GBR again at CPEDI 2* and was selected to study for an Equestrian Diploma in Sporting Excellence at Hartpury College where Clarie Moir is my mentor and assessor.
If anything is possible, then everything is possible
My next goals are compete the Individual Championship Test at National Gold Level, to represent GBR Internationally at 3* and gain a place on World Class Para-Dressage Podium Potential Squad.
Thank you for reading About Me, and thank you to everyone who supports me and sponsors me.
If you’d like to help my development in any way please do get in touch and Join my Journey!