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2019 TDF's Para-Equestrian Dressage Fund Recipient: Meghan Benge

Meghan's grant was made possible by a donation from PATH International in memory of Margo O'Callaghan.

Thank you for allowing us to take advantage of the Para Equestrian grant. My ponies, Trip and Zoey, appreciated the extra time to settle in to new surroundings after shipping from Aiken to Wellington prior to our shows in January.

The grant made it more feasible to spend the extra time (a month in total) training for the CPEDIʼs in January. For me, this made a big difference for my ponies as they are often quite different away from home. So I had time to adjust and plan accordingly. They had time to settle in! Dressage is so much about timing, and to have to opportunity to fine tune my riding and training leading up to the shows was vital.

In a similar vein, the extra time gave me the opportunity to participate in a bit fitting with my pony, Trip. As an older guy, he can sometimes be fussy about his mouth. The opportunity to try a number of different bits without having to purchase them all first was so helpful. Along with the expertise of the bit fitter and my coach, we ended up with a combination I would not have previously thought would work.

Lastly, I had the opportunity to watch others train and compete. From other para dressage riders having similar struggles as me, to able bodied athletes warm up routines, the ability to have an immersive experience in the sport was invaluable.

As a freelance photographer and graphic designer, the grant was much appreciated and made my trip financially a bit easier. As a result, my pony, Zoey, scored one of her best freestyle scores showing under the lights at the Global Dressage Festival.