After exceptional performances this season, a talented para-equestrian dressage rider based in the West Midlands has been accepted onto the BEF Excel Talent Programme.
Lydia Aucott, 16, from Shropshire, has been riding since the age of five; her ambition to keep riding was piqued in 2011, after a Christmas present of a lesson with her hero, Paralympian Lee Pearson.
The following year Lydia applied for the Para Equestrian Entry Programme, which offers training days across five England regions with top International coaches, in partnership with Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and British Dressage.
Aimed at identifying and supporting talented riders, Lydia explained how the Para-Equestrian Dressage hubs have helped her riding journey; “I have always ridden just for the love of it, I had a lesson with Lee Pearson who encouraged me to get graded. After that my mum found the Para-Equestrian Dressage training hubs through the British Dressage website and this is where I met David Hamer [Lead for the BEF Excel Talent Programme and World Class Co-ordinator].”
After taking part in training days at Mid Cheshire RDA and achieving excellent results at National and International competitions, Lydia was nominated for the Excel Talent Programme and accepted this July; “The training hubs and Excel Talent Programme are great because it allows the para-equestrian dressage selectors to see what you can do and receive training, my main aim for the future is to ride in the Paralympic Games.”
The Sport England funded BEF Excel Talent Programme, was developed to extend the rider talent pathway below the UK Sport funded World Class programme, and help riders develop to be the best they can be in their chosen discipline.
David Hamer; “It has been great to see Lydia progress from the BEF Para-Entry Programme through to the BEF Excel Talent Programme. She is proving that hard work, determination and acting on advice given can reap rewards as a prospect for the future.”
A 2014 SportsAid recipient, Lydia has been training with Nicola Lickley, recently notching up an impressive three top placings with ride Ragtime (owned by Sarah Dean) at Bishop Burton CPEDI2* – at what was only her second International competition.