Gayle and Bartie take home a national title

THE Pegasus Centre near Morpeth is celebrating after one of its riders became a national champion.

Para dressage rider Gayle Bloomfield has won the Restricted Grade 2 class at the Winter National Championships riding her horse Bartie.

“I am over the moon”, said Gayle. “The achievement is all the more special because I have only been riding Bartie for a few months.”

Gayle achieved a mark of 70.48 per cent in her final test and beat a horse called Lambrusco which previously won gold at the Olympics.

On the same day, Gayle also won the National Para Dressage Talent Spotting over-26 group event with 90.67 per cent.

“It was a long weekend, with all the travelling involved, and I am very tired, but also very happy,” said Gayle.

“I am very grateful to everyone who has supported me, especially those who travelled with me to the championships, those at the Pegasus Centre who helped prepare Barty and my trainer Cathy Burrell.”

The judge for the competition, Ava Bachinger, is an international para dressage judge from Austria said that Gayle and Bartie were “a perfect combination”.

Gayle was a recent nominee in the North East Disability Sports Awards and was also voted Northumberland Gazette Sports Personality of the Year 2011.

Gayle took up para dressage after she developed multiple sclerosis. The former air hostess and part-time riding instructor initially gave up horse riding after she was diagnosed with the disease. However she was persuaded to get back on a horse and has achieved great success.

The mother of two, whose husband Ian is a crewman on the Seahouses lifeboat, has continued to pursue her dream of sporting success and has received support from not only her family but many friends.

Gayle’s horse Bartie is stabled at the Pegasus Riding Centre in Tranwell, near Morpeth. The Pegasus Centre is a designated centre for the Riding for the Disabled Association, and the home of the Morpeth RDA Group, one of over 600 RDA groups throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland providing people with disabilities with the opportunity to improve their physical and mental health through education and fun with horses.

Bartie was loaned to Gayle by Sue Mead, his owner. Sue will be a steward at the 2012 Olympic Games.

“We are delighted with Gayle’s success,” said Martin Peagam, centre manager. “It is a superb achievement and a tribute to her dedication and commitment. Gayle’s success serves as an inspiration to all riders with disabilities that with hard-work and dedication you can achieve your dreams.”

The Pegasus Centre is a purpose-built, BHS-accredited, riding school and livery stable, surrounded by acres of grassland and moorland, which came about through a partnership between the Riding for the Disabled Association, Blyth Valley Arts and Leisure and Northumberland County Council.

The centre is committed to providing excellent opportunities for participation in equestrian and other leisure pursuits and for the development of skills. Those involved, including the many volunteers who support the centre with time and skills believe in ‘ability’, not ‘disability’, and encourage everyone who comes to the Pegasus Centre to discover talents they may not have known they had and to develop their skills and confidence.

The Pegasus Centre is a designated centre for the Riding for the Disabled Association, and the home of the Morpeth RDA Group, one of over 600 RDA groups throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland providing people with disabilities with the opportunity to improve their physical and mental health through education and fun with horses.

Each week well over 25,000 children and adults across the United Kingdom enjoy the experience of riding or carriage driving – with opportunities to join in social activities, competitions, or to take a holiday. These activities combine to bring a new dimension to necessarily restricted lives, encourage independence and do much to improve a wide range of medical conditions.