Guest Blog: Meet Keeley Squires Para Rider
Hi my name’s Keeley Squires and I am a grade 4 para dressage rider and also compete at able bodied dressage.
I was born with a condition called spina bifida which affects your spinal cord, as well as bone deformities, nerve damage, paralysis, loss of feeling, and internal organ problems.
The doctors said the condition would not affect me, however unfortunately at 29 years of age my condition had deteriorated to a point that was irreversible and unfortunately will continue to deteriorate.
As you can imagine this was a lot to take on board, as a competitive rider the thought of not being able to do what I loved filled me with dread. The para world saved me and opened my mind to what I could do not what I couldn’t!
I started competing at para dressage 3 years ago and in that time I’ve competed for the British Dressage Northern region, competed at the summer and winter national championships, and being selected to ride for Great Britain at an amazing three international competitions! I also rode at my first Premier League this year which was a fantastic experience.
Being a para rider has given me opportunities that I never thought I’d have. It’s made me believe in my self and showed me that things have only just started not ended!
When I first met my coach, Claire Marie Senior I didn’t feel I could ride any more. All the usual things didn’t work any more, things I could do before I was struggling with and my marks and confidence was deteriorating. I really was at a point were I thought I would never compete again. And if I couldn’t ride, I didn’t feel like there was any point carrying on.
The thing that sticks in my mind the most, that was the turning point for me, was when Claire said I was trying to ride like I used to which wasn’t going to work as I had changed. But, that didn’t mean I couldn’t do it, just we had to find another way.
Once I started to ride with the body I had now instead of the body I had before, things started to improve!
And by concentrating on what I could do instead of what I couldn’t, awareness of my other aids and the influence it had on the horse started to improve.
Claire slowly made me realise there was always a solution to any problem and with correct training, my riding was getting better than before.
Talking through my goals and feeling like someone believed in me gave me the confidence and self belief to go and compete, to give things a go, to make mistakes and know we could improve from them!
So from wanting to still be able to canter left without feeling unbalanced to now my goals being riding my first advanced medium and the Paris Olympics!
So, to any one out there with a disability if I can do it, you can too!