Everything Horse magazine February 2014 - Page 22

Natasha Baker Here we talk to Black Country Saddles para dressage rider Natasha Baker about ‘magic wands’ and influential mentors. Natasha is currently competing at International Paralympic Dressage Grade II and Elementary. Her biggest wins to date are two gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and three gold medals at the 2013 European Para-Dressage Championships. Tell us your phrase/motto/ethos you live your life by, and why you believe in it. “Never blame the horse. Always look at yourself, training methods, tack and equipment etc” Natasha Baker 22 Everything Horse UK Magazine • February 2014 • Issue 5 “Everything happens for a reason” - every athlete has their ups and downs but I believe that you learn a lot from that, about yourself and the people around you. Sometimes you think “why on earth is this happening” but there is always a positive in the end; no matter how long it takes. I also have a lucky number 22 - We used to live at number 22, I was 22 in London, we bought the 22nd horse we tried… the list goes on.  If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about your discipline, what would it be? To take the turn on the haunches out of my grade II individual test – it’s a hard movement when you can’t use your legs! What first made you interested in horse riding and how old were you? I had always ridden ponies around the yard at home. My mum used to ride so I always had access but never anything overly suitable. It was the Sydney Paralympics that really inspired me to get into Para Dressage and I was 10. What do you love most about riding horses / the equestrian industry? Working with the horses I love every day. Every day is different; we work on different things and every day they surprise me. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.    What do you dislike most about riding horses / the equestrian industry? I don’t like to add up how much I spend on the horses, in this case, ignorance is bliss! But also the wet, cold, windy days early in the morning are not the best!  Which horse would you love to have had the ride on, and why? I think any dressage rider would probably agree with Valegro - he is just immense!  What are the key things you think make a successful sports horse, in your discipline, and why. and that’s going to work with me on a day to day basis. 2) Paces - A horse can have the best temperament but can’t move! I need a horse that has gold medal winning paces - walks and trots for a 9 and has the suppleness and presence to go with it. 3) Trainability - I need a horse that is going to adapt and work with my disability, I can’t use my legs when I ride so I need a horse that’s going to take me forward.  What key things have you learned from your most influential equestrian mentor(s)? Never blame the horse. Always look at yourself, training methods, tack and equipment etc.  Do you have a favourite piece of tack? Yes without doubt my bespoke saddle made especially for me by the team at Black Country Saddles. I am very fortunate to be sponsored by them and their saddles are made to exacting standards they are fantastic. What’s the most common negative aspect you see in horses that are competing in your discipline, and what do you think causes this? It’s not a massive negative but what I think some riders strugg B