Welcome to the very first In Due Horse Inspo Interview! I had the privilege to interview Andrea Parker AKA The Sand Arena Ballerina as the first person in this series of interviews.
Andrea is an Australian blogger, her dressage blog The Sand Arena Ballerina follows her & her horse Nonie and their journey as they compete (very successfully) in dressage. The blog also features interviews, features on riders and horses, nutrition and fitness, fashion and mindset to name a few.
Andrea often talks about motivation, improvement and inspiration in her dressage blog, which is why I thought she would be a perfect person to interview for the Inspo Interviews.
1) What inspired you to become a dressage rider and start your blog?
I have always loved dressage, even back in my pony club days I was the kid who loved torture time (aka sit trot without stirrups) and ride around the barrels in a perfect figure eight rather than going flat out. While I used to ride all disciplines a few bad falls in my late teens steered me away from jumping. But it was probably the experience of riding a coaches Grand Prix stallion and advanced mare in my early twenties that sealed my fate as a Dressage rider. The opportunity to feel some of the higher level dressage movement like passage and canter pirouettes had me hooked and is something I will forever be grateful for.
Creative writing is something that I have always loved. However during my university years I had to put my creative thoughts aside and learn how the human body functioned and to write scientific reports in order to gain my Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics. After graduating I often thought about starting a blog, but I worried I wouldn’t know what to write about, how to write it and whether anyone would read my ramblings. In 2016 I became a brand ambassador for an equestrian clothing company and needed to write monthly updates for their blog. It was through doing these updates that I developed confidence in my writing and took the plunge into the world of blogging at the end of 2016.
2) Who do you look to for inspiration and why?
There are so many people in the equestrian community that inspire me – I could go on all day. Of course high profile riders like Charlotte Dujardin, Laura Graves and Ingrid Klimke are a source of inspiration, however one of my key sources of inspiration is my wonderful coach Danielle Keogh. She is one of the hardest working, most humble people I know and of course she is a beautiful rider. It’s been awesome to see her do so well this year and kick her goals. She works full time as a physiotherapist in addition to having several horses competing and a number of riders that she coaches – this is something I would love to do in the future too so she is an inspiration in that way as well.
Another inspiration is an Australian Para Dressage rider Emma Booth who also inspires me hugely. Emma began her riding career as an Eventer but a car accident in 2013 left her a paraplegic. Just seven months after the near fatal accident she was back in the saddle. Aside from being a beautiful and tenacious rider she is also an incredible role model eloquently calling out bullies and trolls online.
3) What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?
I have been so fortunate to have a number of amazing experiences with horses, but if I had to name just one thing it would be competing at the Australian Adult Amateur Owner Rider Dressage Championships this year. This was my first time competing at a National level and what made it even more special was the fact that I have brought Nonie along from a green baby to successfully competing at medium level. As we come down the final centreline of our first test I was fighting back tears. Receiving a sixth place in this test was the icing on the cake.
4) What would be the best piece of advice you could give someone who is feeling a bit uninspired at the moment?
I find few things to be as inspiring and satisfying as feeling Nonie and I make progress. If I feel that I am letting us down, struggling with the basics or just stalling this can make me feel a bit unmotivated and uninspired. How do I get past this?
1. Set goals which are realistic, meaningful and achievable.
2. Take lessons as often as I can afford to – sometimes you need an outsiders perspective to know where you are becoming stuck or to help push you through something challenging.
3. Reflect on every ride (I find it really helpful to do this in writing) and make myself find at least one or two positives from the ride – I promise you there will be something there. In the long term this will also help to train your thinking to look for the good in things.
4. Always remember the rule of 1%. If you can achieve and sustain a 1% improvement every time you get in the saddle you’ll be 100% better in just 100 rides.
5) What are your plans for this year and what do you hope to achieve with your blog & Nonie?
I have a few goals on my list for Nonie and I in 2019. I am aiming for an advanced start towards the end of the competition season – dancing down the centreline in tails and a double bridle with Nonie would be an absolute dream come true. In order to be able to do this we need to nail our flying changes and learn to ride the canter pirouettes 😬 Oh and I also need to master the double bridle!
In 2019 I would like to enter some new territory with my blog, namely I want to do interviews with professionals within the equestrian industry – think vets, trainers, riders and judges just to name a few. The thought of approaching these people to be a part of my blog terrifies me, which is exactly why I am making it a goal.
Be sure to check out Andrea’s brilliant blog at http://www.thesandarenaballerina.com . You can also follow The Sand Arena Ballerina – equestrian blog on Facebook & the_sand_arena_ballerina on instagram.
I hoped you liked the first Inspo Interview & be sure to check out next months interview with Krystal Kelly an Equine Adventuress who travels the world on horseback.