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Paralympian Johnson in good showing at Qatar event

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Three-time Paralympian equestrian competitor Philippa Johnson is back in Belgium after a successful trip to Doha, Qatar last week, writes Mark Etheridge.
Johnson was taking part in the CPEDI3* CHI AL SHAQAB competition and this year was the first time that para-riders had been invited and Johnson says it was an amazing experience.
‘Nothing in Europe can compare to the set-up they have there! This was a super opportunity for us to see not only how Lord Louis would cope with flying but also coming into a much hotter climate. The horses arrived very late on Tuesday night but settled in well. We did a training ride on Wednesday midday and Louis felt full of himself. There were seven riders in the Grade IV class.
Thursday was our first test, the Team Test and Louis did a super test finishing fourth with 69.24%. I really started to feel what Chris [Haazen, trainer] has been after in the test which is a slightly bigger trot, in the past I have sometimes let get a bit fast but for the first time felt exactly what he meant!
‘On Friday, it felt like Louis had nothing left in his tank. Normally when he’s like that he then goes against my leg and gets a bit pee’d off with me and will kick out and just get bloody minded but this time he still really tried.
‘Being the Individual Championships the judges were marking harder, we finished fifth with 67.97%.
‘In preparation for the next day and taking into account that this was a learning trip we decided to up his food and give him some electrolytes. This was either going to give us the desired effect or he would
explode!’
‘I’m happy to say it worked brilliantly and he felt amazing. Unfortunately as we were leaving the warm up arena en route to the competition arena he stood on his front shoe and pulled it off. This caused him to be irregular in his test. They didn’t ring me out but they got me in the marks and we finished seventh with 68.33%. I checked with the steward afterwards as to what was allowed and she said that if it happens I’m allowed to ask the steward for a hold, while the farrier puts the shoe back on.
‘Bugger, if only I had known but again part of the learning process. Thank goodness there was a super SA farrier, Dormehl Combrinck, there who came straight to the stables to put the shoe back on!
‘All in all though it was the most spectacular experience and one that I will never forget!’


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