August started with a holiday to France with my family.  There was ten of us all together and we headed to the south of France. It was a hot summer in the UK and even hotter in France. It was time to chill out and relax after my GCSEs and competing, just spending time in the pool and recharging my batteries – it was fantastic!

At the back of my mind though, I knew I was coming back to my GCSE results the very next week, so as much fun as it was I was a nervous as well.  It was a journey into the unknown for all GCSE students this year as we were the first year to study a new curriculums, there were new exams and even a new new marking and grading structure, so we were all in the dark at results time, even the teachers. I have spent my years from year 7 to year 11 at The Misbourne who have been fantastic to me. I moved from The Netherlands, where I was born, in year 5 so I really only  had a year or so of primary school learning English before moving up.  Where I live in Buckinghamshire we have a Grammar school system, but having just started education in English it was hard doing my 11+ and though I wanted to go to a Grammar School, my English wasn’t good enough at the time to pass the exam.

On GCSE results day I was flabbergasted.  I got two 8s two 7s and four fives and a Distinction, I was ecstatic.  My results translated to A* A* A A B B B B under the old grading system and after a remark on of my English  Language paper, my grade went up from a five to a six, which was fantastic ( I won’t mention my grade in Computer Studies as that is what my mum and dad do for a living….).

Me and Mr Preston my retiring headmaster at Misbourne School and who has shown me amazing support


Like plenty of young equestrians I’m sure, I had always wanted to be a vet, which was always going to be difficult to achieve and probably even harder with my CP.  However my mock results and also my GCSE results showed that my strongest subjects were in Humanities (and to be honest the subjects I enjoyed the most) and after some reflection I decided that I wanted to study English and History at A level.

Perhaps oddly for a teenager I have also developed an interest in Politics so when I was looking at my A Level options I was struggling to find the right balance at The Misbourne.  With help from my parents we enquired with the local Grammar school I had wanted to go to in Year 7 and although we had not applied previously they offered me a place based upon my GCSE results. I was very emotional and happy as I had eventually achieved what I wanted five years earlier.  Chesham Grammar offered me exactly what I wanted –  History, English Literature and Politics alongside the Equestrian Diploma in Sporting Excellence which I was also selected for at Hartpury College and also counts as another A Level.   So another couple of hard years studying ahead of me to get to university and balance my equestrian development too and I an really looking forward to it…

Results out of the way I had an opportunity to do a photoshoot on our new yard with Jennifer Gillan. It was casual shoot with Aslan in hand rather than ridden and on a very hot day.  In the circumstances Aslan was not on his best behaviour and while he is pretty good at showing off, doing it in the sun on one of the hottest days of a very hot summer was obviously not in his plans!  Jennifer was really lovely did a great job despite Aslan having a bit of an attitude in the heat and the photos we received were really lovely..

One of my favourite shots of me and Aslan from the photoshoot with Jennifer Gillan

And finally after moving yards last month, I made another big change to my home team arrangements.  After training with Sacha for over three years I decided it was time for a change.  I  have learned an amazing amount and grown in ability and knowledge working with Sacha and I am grateful for what she has taught me in more ways than I can describe here.  But I came to the conclusion that it was time to try something different in order to take the next step in my development.  Change is always difficult, and its the easiest thing to keep on doing the same thing in the same surroundings.  But I’m looking for big improvements, so I took the decision to make a big change which was tough on everyone but necessary too.

We were fortunate that Stephen Moore already coaches on our new yard.  Stephen is very familiar with Para-dressage at the highest levels as he already coaches Erin Orford who is on the World Class Programme and competed for GBR at last years Europeans, and in this year’s World Equestrian Games in Tryon in North Carolina.

I had my first training session with Stephen before the end of the month, and it was good. It felt different and challenging, but in a positive way.  I had a second session before he headed off to WEG 2018 with Erin and while it’s early days, I am really enjoying working with him.  I’ll let you know next month how we progress together.  Here we are below working together during our first session together in the indoor school at Donna’s who is also helping me with some coaching so I’m building a bit if a team approach which feels right and feels very positive.

Might first training session with Stephen Moore

And that’s it for August, a short month in terms of riding but big on emotion, excitement and change.  September will be a time of settling into new routines.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading,

Ilse x

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