Youth: Kassia Dudek-McGee
From winning the RDA Nationals, to My Quest and beyond meet Kassia who dreams of riding Grand Prix!
Young rider, Kassia started her riding journey within the RDA as therpy for her autism and mobility issues, where she fell in love with the sport. Karibok Queen Of Hearts, known as Kari, quickly joined the team, three years ago to help her achieve her dressage dreams. Mum, Kimberley talks about the Welsh Section D "We purchased Kari from a Pony Club home, just before she turned 6, as Kassia’s first own pony. She's a strong willed mare but the fire that was in Kari’s personality is what Kassia fell in love with. As she reminded her of herself."
They soon started to compete between the white boards, "Kassia proved her pony could dance not only winning at RDA Regionals, they qualified for RDA Nationals at Hartpury and BD ID championships held at Solihull, where they both blossomed and excelled." Due to COVID and moving yards, the pair had a difficult year however this did not stop them, "They both trained hard working on improving themselves and refining the basics. Kassia and her Kari entered into the RDA Royal Windsor virtual championships where they won their class section and placed 3rd in highest mark overall with the combined classes."
Towards the end of 2020 they gained more confidence and started to venture out to unaffiliated competitions where their scores reflected this pushing over the to 70% mark. With some encouragement from their yard owner, they took the leap to Saracen Horse Feeds Quest, competing in Team Quest and My Quest and then Area Festivals, "As a parent I was worried whether Kassia would be able to cope with able bodied competitors but Kassia was focused and held her own and even won her first Prelim test over 70% and with that first test she qualified for the PetPlan Area festivals which was being held at Myerscough."
We attended with no expectations and just went for the experience and how they excelled and placed 3rd place with second place a mere 0.5 of a mark higher.
From that moment Kassia and her pony new this all their determination and hard work made it worth while."
Since then they have been competing regularly within Prelim Bronze section and attended the BD Associated championships which was their first stay away show in over two years, where they placed in top ten. The pair have more recently gained qualification to the Winter Area Festivals, after being placed the highest U21 at Solihull, "Kassia is really looking forward to the winter area festivals. She has been travelling to Cheshire to train with BD youth trainer Janet Horswill every two weeks, who Kassia has built a good relationship with. And looks forward to each training sessions on how she can improve to help her pony improve. She then takes what she has learnt to work on at home."
Kassia has big dreams for the future, "She can’t wait for the youth assessments so she can set targets and more goals for progressing and she wants to progress right through the levels and has dreams of riding Grand Prix." Her mum, Kimberley is supporting her through every stage, "Kassia wants to show other disabled riders your not limited in what you want to achieve and you don’t have to dream or feel your restricted to just disabled classes. You only have to believe in yourself and your horse and the possibilities are endless."
Kassia describes what it is like to ride her Kari, "It's a feeling of being free. Free from limitations and restrictions of what everyday life brings with living with Autism and mobility issues. Everyday life is hard and complicated but with Kari I feels safe and free. I loves dressage as it’s like following a map and I like to show people that we can follow that map."
Kari, likes to keep people entertained, "At training at shows is ever professional at home she’s very quirky and very comical. She’s always up to mischief and never fails to make people laugh. Weather is spooking at a random plastic hay bail to then trying to lick the said spooky plastic hay bail. She has horse toys in her stable she loves to play with, especially her red ball that she likes to throw about and chase. She loves a good scratch and will pull you back in for more if you stop."
Outside of the arena, they love to go hacking with friends and find new adventures, "They only school three days a week, two of the days they like to go hacking which they both love and do independently. The other day leaves for fun day whether it be going to Kelsall for some XC jumps to pole clinic’s, this day is always left for Kassia to try something new and just enjoy time with her pony."
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