Para Training & Paralympics  

In 1996, Britain's Anne Dunham arrived at her first Paralympic Games in Atlanta, USA, she dug her hand into a hat and drew out the name of the horse she would compete. That horse turned out to be Doodlebug, "a riding school pony who really did behave like a doodlebug in the arena!" remembers Anne, who won a bronze medal nonetheless.  
A total of 59 disabled athletes from 16 nations, mounted on a motley bunch of horses, did battle for the medals in Atlanta, and in doing so, they cemented the status of dressage as a Paralympic Sport. In short - they made history. 
In the 24 years since, the sport has changed almost beyond recognition; at the last Paralympic Games, in Rio in 2016, there were 76 riders representing 29 countries, all riding sleek, well-trained dressage horses - not a Doodlebug in sight. It was in Rio that Anna concluded her glittering career, adding a gold and two silver medals with spotted stallion LJT Lucas Normark to her hefty medal tally. 
The early Paralympic years were what inspired Sacha to dedicate a large part of her equestrian career to training para riders; no matter what their ability or aspirations. Read about her para journey below... 
 

SACHA AS A PARA TRAINER 

Sacha has a passion and a talent for training Para riders of many ages, stages and abilities. Sacha has completed the Aspire training course for Para riders. This course took 2 years to complete and Sacha was one of only eight people in the country to be selected for the course. Sacha is also a trained elite coach for Para riders, as well as having her UKCC level 3. 
 
During her training, Sacha learnt to successfully coach Para riders whilst offering emotional support and drive. A key to this is keeping the athlete engaged in the training even when they are not physically able to ride, as well as considering after sport damage limitations. Sacha and her team can help to keep horses fit and competition ready. At Austens Farm Stables, we offer the support of the yard along with Sacha’s support for the horse and the athlete, encouraging positive forward thinking, and allowing success to become a reality. 
 
One of Sacha’s biggest accomplishments was training Natasha Baker from a young age through to winning a double gold at the 2012 Paralympics, a huge success that Sacha will treasure for years to come. Further to this, Sacha has trained Ilsa Taylor from the beginning of her Para career through to selection on to the Excel Training programme, and then on to competing at Championships. Sacha is also currently training Emma Douglas, with the hope of reaching the Paralympics. 
 
In November 2012, 9 coaches were inducted into the Hall of Fame; Sacha was one of them. Read the full article here: 
 
Nine dressage coaches were inducted into the Coaching Hall of Fame on 20 November. 
 
The coaches — all of whom instructed London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games gold medallists — received medals from Minister for sport and tourism Hugh Robertson at the UK Coaching Awards 2012 at the Lancaster Hotel, London. 
 
The coaches were: 
Michel Assouline (the UK para-equestrian dressage squad coach) 
Klaus Balkenhol (who trains Laura Bechtolsheimer) 
Dr Wilfred Bechtolsheimer (trainer of his daughter Laura 
Sacha Hamilton (Natasha Baker) 
Carl Hester (Charlotte Dujardin) 
Clive Milkins (Sophie Christiansen) 
Nina Venables (Debbie Criddle) 
Angela Weiss (Sophie Wells) 
 
Mr Robertson said: “Congratulations to all those coaches who helped deliver victory for our British athletes at the London 2012 Games. It is entirely fitting that we should recognise their efforts and achievements by enrolling them into the Coaching Hall of Fame.” 
 
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