Although lockdown was a tough time for some, for many the extra time at home and encouragement to get out once a day was an opportunity to have more time to think about themselves, start new hobbies and exercise more. Amanda Shirtcliffe, our Sponsored Para rider chose to use her time upping her horses training to ensure she could improve on their training plans and current scores once the lockdown eased. We recently caught up with Amanda to find out what work she and her horses put in to help achieve this whist battling the rules of lockdown life.



Lockdown provided us with a huge opportunity to take some time to evaluate our previous performances and devise a detailed plan for each of the Para horse’s personal development. 


Kevin’s progress

If King Kevin was human, he’d be the class clown, always joking and messing around, he’d do everything possible to disrupt the lesson and get out of doing the work. And this is precisely what Kevin does in the dressage arena, I never feel that I have his undivided attention and he’s usually looking for any excuse to misbehave. I think a lot of Kevin’s unwanted arena antics comes from a lack of confidence, Kev might be all big and macho on the outside but inside he’s quite an anxious animal. 

Lockdown gave both Kev and I a chance to learn something new and grow in confidence together. I purchased a variety of swimming pool inflatables, flags and tarpaulin, and with the guidance of an online training programme we set to work on gaining Kev’s trust and developing his groundwork skills. It proved so successful with Kevin that we started to use this type of training for all of the horses. 

Creating success during Lockdown Life - Kevin

Princess Fiona

Princess is a true professional performer; she is fabulously focused in the arena and always aims to please. Princess has spent the past four years competing on the International circuit and although all of our horses get a well-deserved break at the end of the season, they rarely get the chance to have more than a couple of weeks off. Lockdown provided Princess with the perfect time to have a mini holiday, she seems to have thoroughly enjoyed her time off and has come back into work feeling rather fresh!

Creating success during Lockdown Life - Princess

The youngsters

Just like Kevin, we chose to use the time in lockdown to educate the young horses using groundwork. At first some of them were terrified of the plastic tarpaulin and others were frightened of the flags, but over time they all found their feet and conquered their fears. Tottie was super scared of everything I brought into the arena but she’s showed immense progress and I’m pleased to report she is now firm friends with an inflatable unicorn!

Lockdown presented all of us with unique challenges, the cancellation of Tokyo was a huge disappointment for the majority of athletes but for me I have found that the possibility of having an extra year could work in our favour. We’ve learnt so much about ourselves, our horses and our approach to training. 


Yes, of course, lockdown wasn’t ideal and it absolutely scuppered all of Tokyo training. But sometimes it’s good to take a step back to realise just how far you’ve come. Spending time with the horses without any added pressures of performing and competing has had a really positive outcome for us.


We are now back in full competition mode, the horses are on winning form, and most importantly, they’re all showing signs of an improved performance ~ you can’t ask for any more than that!