Robyn Andrews, para equestrian and paralympian ,is the second of my interviews of Canadian dressage riders competing this winter in Wellington Florida with the goal of representing Canada in the World Equestrian Games (WEG) this September. I am asking each of the riders the same set of questions.
Here are Robyn’s answers to my questions.
When did you start to ride? I started to ride for therapy when I was 18 years old. My Physiotherapist thought that it might help with my balance and coordination. I would ride once a month. I had never ridden in my life so it was very difficult for me . I had a leader and two side walkers for 5 years.
When did you decide you could be a para-equestrian and not just a therapy rider?Therapists said I had that competitive drive and asked would I ever consider competing. Then the then coach for Para Dressage came to Newfoundland and saw me ride and again asked me if I would consider riding on a regular basis .So I jumped( not really since I cannot jump) at the chance with my parents’ blessing. Never thinking it would take me all over the world.
What other major championships have you ridden in? I have had the great honour to represent Canada at WEG in France in 2014 and at the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
What can you tell me about the horse you will be competing with this winter season? I am competing with my partner of 9 years. She is a Friesian Andalusian cross mare , her name is Fancianna. We are trying to qualify for WEG in North Carolina in September 2018. She has been my legs for 9 years. She has a wonderful temperament and she makes me feel safe. She takes such good care of me when I am on her back.
What is the most difficult or challenging part of a competition season like this ?The most difficult or challenging aspects of qualification for me are all the travelling to the international competitions as there are so few in North America. We travel to Florida, North Carolina, and Ottawa in just the first 5 months of 2018. All the trailering for Fancianna takes its toll. However she is a fabulous traveller. Personally , financially it is such an expensive sport and I require a caregiver and thankfully my Mother accompanies me everywhere. Also as a result of choosing to do this I have to train all year away from home consequently I miss home and my family terribly .
Is there something else you might have done if you had not become a para-equestrian? Had I not chosen this path of being a Para Equestrian I have always wanted to work with disabled children. I feel that I could be a role model for some child who feels they may not be able to do something. I want to motivate people as well. Dreams can come true as I have lived them.
If you could ride any horse, alive or dead and any discipline what horse would that be? If I could pick any horse in the world to ride I would love to ride Valegro. I feel he would be smooth and easy to sit to. He might get me good scores too!
You might notice that Robyn is riding without stirrups. I asked her about that. Here is her reply. “I am a Grade 1 rider. Considered the most involved or disabled of the grades. We do the tests at the walk only. Also,yes ,I now ride without stirrups. The coaches feel I sit better in the saddle. Also it is safer than having your feet attached to the stirrups by elastics.”
Thank you so much for answering my questions Robyn. All the very best of luck to you and Fanciana in your journey to ride for Canada at the World Equestrian Games.
If you would like to know more about Robyn here is a video from You Tube that was made in 2016. Do take a look, it will give you a glimpse into the story of this very determined equestrian athlete!