2020 National Academy athletes selected

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Mon, 23 Dec 2019 16:29

Following the success of the first BD Youth National Academy in 2019, we would like to congratulate the successful riders who have been selected as 2020 National Academy athletes.

From three Foundation Academy camps across the country in Autumn/Winter 2019, a group of riders has been selected based on their ridden performance, physical development, personal profiling and engagement with the development process.

Congratulations to the following selected riders:

Danielle Balsdon (Southern)
Emily Coller (Eastern)
Olivia Robertson (South West)
Rebecca Baybutt (Northern)
Gracie Morgan (Northern)
Leah Thourgood-Davidson (Northern)
Abigail Taylor (Eastern)
Anna Bates (Northern)
Clara Withers (Northern)
Sarah Gormley (Southern)
Sophia Marston (Central)
Charlotte Neal (North West)

The places for these riders are fully-funded by Sport England and the riders will receive top-class training throughout the programme with industry professionals. Once again, Spencer Wilton will be joining us as the National Academy coach for 2020 and athletes will also receive training with experienced professionals such as Andy Thomas (Eventphysio), Charlie Hutton (athlete mentor), Anne Keen (List 1 Judge) and Academy sponsor Dengie will be providing educational talks and monitoring the Academy horses’ weight, condition and feeding programmes.

Having been selected for a second year, 21 year old Danielle Balsdon commented; “I’m so excited to have been selected again for the National Academy for 2020, with the programme having already helped me to develop as a rider throughout 2019. I’m excited to be able to carry on the amazing training that’s on offer with these academies and look forward to what the future holds.”

Along with three second-year athletes, first timer Gracie Morgan from BD’s Northern region is looking forward to the training in early 2020 and reflects on her journey so far. “I’m so proud of the progress that Ella and I have made this year!” she said. “As she’s not only my pony but my best friend, I’m always eager to learn as much as I can so that I don’t let her down. She is a complex character and presents me with lots of challenges to unlock but equally, if she could talk, I’m sure she would be saying the exact same thing about me!

“We are on an incredible journey and I feel that the BD Youth Academies are really focusing us. From developing rider skills, to personal strength/fitness training; saddle fitting; rein analysis; diet and nutrition; self-reflection and goal setting - we have learned so much and can’t thank the professionals who ran the camps enough. They’ve helped me to develop my knowledge and understanding a lot. My partnership with Ella is so much stronger and we are definitely learning to trust and respect each other more.

I’ve learned that every part of the process is just as important as the other and provides a key to unlock progress and potential. Of course, working with an Olympic rider will be really exciting and a huge highlight
Gracie Morgan

“When thinking about what I’m most looking forward to at the National Academies, it is all of the above. I’ve learned that every part of the process is just as important as the other and provides a key to unlock progress and potential. Of course, working with an Olympic rider will be really exciting and a huge highlight!

“Being selected for the national academy is a dream come true for me and along with the support from my family, trainers, BD Northern and the Academies means that Ella and I can dance into 2020 with confidence and hope.”

Dengie Marketing Manager Lisa Wilson commented; “Dengie is delighted to be involved with such dedicated, enthusiastic young dressage riders. It’s a superb opportunity for our team of nutritionists to impart their horse feeding knowledge to the next generation of riders, whilst also ensuring that their horses’ nutritional requirements are closely monitored, so that they’re healthy and happy to perform.”

British Dressage would also like to congratulate the other riders at the 2019 Foundation Academy camps. The standard was very high and we look forward to seeing these riders again in future.

Interested in the BD Youth Academies? Look out for information on the 2020 Foundation Academy camps in Spring. In the meantime, make sure you attend a regional squadding day to be eligible to apply for Academies as well as regional teams.