Although Rebecca’s focus has shifted from the western world to dressage, she is continuing to compete in ranching and reining events in between dressage competitions. “I’ll go to the Ranch Sorting National Championships (RSNCA) and I’ll go up to Dolby Queensland for the Australian Reining Breeders Classic, as well as some more para reining events in between. I find that flipping between disciplines actually just makes me a better rider. In reining, you’ve got 8 feet of rein and there’s no contact on the mouth. You’re throwing your feet forward to do a sliding stop, it’s completely different to dressage. I’m surprised my brain can keep up with all the disciplines, honestly!”
Part of Rebecca’s reasoning to continue with the western disciplines is to raise awareness, increase membership and help build pathways for other para riders looking to enter these sports. “It’s about making space for other people and making sure they’re catered for rather than just being left behind. Reining is an enjoyable sport for me, so I’m sure other people would enjoy it. It’s completely different to dressage, the movements are slower. Not all para equestrians can go straight into dressage. For a lot of people, para reining is a great pathway. Plus, there is a sporting pathway to the World Para Reining Championships… we hope to send an Australian team next year!”
Rebecca’s community contributions – not only via Reining Australia, but also her work through Rare Voices Australia – have not gone unnoticed. She was recently named a finalist in the 2023 VDSR (Victorian Disability Sport & Recreation) Active Melbourne Community Sportsperson of the Year award, as well as the Australian Community Awards.
Rebecca says competing in reining is also her release button: “I get to dictate my pattern and placement [in reining] so it’s just a different feel to the dressage arena. However, my hopes and my goals and my training are all set around dressage.”
Looking to the future, Rebecca is excited to attend her next para dressage event with Zac. She hopes that they can continue to grow as a combination and eventually step up from CPEDI2* to CPEDI3* level – which is the level required to qualify for international championships such as the FEI World Championships and Paralympics.
“I entered the Victorian Dressage Festival as soon as I got home, so we’ll back it up in December, and then in January there’ll hopefully be another para dressage event at Boneo. After that, we’ll probably do the Boneo CPEDI in April and then go to the Sydney CPEDI in June.
“My plan is to see how far we can get with Zac. If it happens that we can get his training to the point where he looks like a three-star horse, we’ll enter at that level. My long-term goal is the 2026 FEI World Championships in Aachen, Germany and then possibly the 2028 Los Angeles Paralympics. That’s the goal. Realistically, I’m just seeing how far I can push myself to find out what’s achievable that seems unachievable! That’s what it’s all about for me, as well as making pathways for other people.”