Amazing testimonial from Para Equestrian Dressage rider
I would like to introduce myself and share my story with you. My name is Victoria Davies and I am a Para Equestrian Dressage rider, breeder, campaigner of the PRE Andalusian horse and proud user of the joint supplement MOBICOSA & TECHNYFLEX. I would like to share with you details of my life, my disability, my love, passion for the PRE Andalusian, how MOBICOSA has been an important part of my life and of course, tell you about ‘Eddy’ my magnificent Para Equestrian Spanish stallion and our dreams to represent Australia in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
Struck down by a potent virus at age 9, my body was left ravaged. My system was shutting down and this is when the fight of my life began. Beating all odds I managed to survive but my body was left damaged and fighting itself. Instead of fighting the virus my body had started to attack its immune system. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) with negative Rheumatoid factor. Later in my teens I was reassessed and diagnosed with negative Rheumatoid factor with onset Juvenile (yes it’s a mouthful!). Only 20% of people are diagnosed with negative factor so you could say I’m a bit special! In a nutshell, Rheumatoid Arthritis is chronic auto-immune disease. Over the years I have faced many challenges – 36 operations, 3 of which have been major – 7hr Triple Arthrodesis and 2 total hip replacements. All joints, small and large are affected by the rheumatoid, right down to my pinky finger and little toe. Currently I need a right shoulder replacement and Triple Arthrodesis of the right foot, however I am too busy training to get these operations done and I feel they will get in the way of my dreams.
My immune system is very weak and even a mild cold can be life threatening. I am on or have taken in the past many medications – chemotherapy, steroids and a monthly IV biological injection, which is one of the newest treatments for auto-immune diseases. I call these my ‘poison tablets’ as the reality is, they do have some nasty side effects. It is a ‘darned if you do and darned if you don’t’ situation as without these medications my quality of life would be bleak. The RA has weakened my lungs in the past, which makes them more prone to lung infections. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a destructive disease. I have seen my once ‘normal’ body become quite deformed, especially my feet & ankles. There is no synovial fluid to lubricate them, which means I suffer from the bones grinding together causing ‘spears’ and locking. Having my feet fused has helped however, there is no medical procedure for my ankles other than fusing which I am reluctant to have as I will lose my ability to walk… completely. The surgeries on my feet were performed by the outstanding surgeon Dr. Lunz. in February 2008. I had been declined by surgeons & professors in the field repeatedly as the damage to my feet/ankles was, I quote ‘horrific’. I had to prepare myself for the surgeries not to be successful however with a great surgeon who gave it his best shot and my positive attitude… the surgeries were a success and have kept me going!
Before my hip replacements I was unable to walk and spent years with aids until I was old enough to have the procedure done (my body was still growing). The right hip was replaced in 2004 when I was 20, & the left hip, in 2005. The hip replacements were a new lease of life, which I will be forever thankful for and I thank my surgeon Dr Stackpool for coming forward and giving me a go when others declined. My back has developed curvature of the spine (scoliosis) from years of ‘waddling’ and the car crash I had in 2010 resulted in a fracture of the T12 vertebra. I have had no surgeries on my back yet and I hope that is something I can avoid in the short term.
While my disease is very advanced, and is controlled by many harsh pharmaceutical drugs, I do believe my strong use and interest in alternative medicine has helped maintain my general well being and mobility. 10 years I have been taking MOBICOSA. A fantastic product I truly cannot live without! The late Ron Gellatley, a great naturopath admired by many, introduced me to MOBICOSA when I was 16 years old. I started a high dose of MOBICOSA caps of 6 tablets per day over a course of 2 weeks and found a big improvement with my swollen joints and stiffened movement, over a course of 3 weeks I was able to begin light swimming activities, regain my strength and was able to feel somewhat like a normal teenager. Since that day, 10 years ago I am a strong believer in alternative medicine; I take a daily routine of 4 caps of MOBICOSA per day and If I have been training a bit harder than usual and my body is feeling a bit worn out than I will increase to 6 caps until the inflammation has subsided which I find only takes a day to experience a difference and by the 2nd day I feel great again.
As a Para-Equestrian rider, it is very important that I stay fit, healthy and be able to control my disease to the best of my ability. My body fights this destructive disease 24/7 so it has never been in my nature to sit back and let it take over my life. I have always found ways to make improvements. I am a strong believer that one must help ones self. MOBICOSA is an important element of my life and I must say if I accidently run out and miss a daily dose I can defiantly feel the difference within my body, not just my joints! The swelling and burning sensation returns throughout my joints, tendons, ligaments and I just feel fatigued and horrible; it makes my busy daily routine quite difficult when this happens. This is a reason why I always have plenty of bottles in my cupboards so I am never without! I have been on this product for 10 years, that’s pretty much most of my life and I truly can’t see my life in the future without this product. MOBICOSA helps to maintain my quality of life and allows me to continue to follow my dreams and to me this can only be a positive.
I am the daughter of Barbara & Alan Davies, the founders & directors of TRANQUILO LODGE Established 1986 (www.tranquilolodge.com). Breeders of the PRE Andalusian, here in New South Wales, Australia. Yes, you could say I am one lucky girl to be born into a family that breeds the PRE Andalusian. From a very young age I have been horse obsessed! I could ride before I could walk and have won countless awards for my riding at National and Royal level. When I was a toddler my mum spent most weekends competing and I would be close by in my pram cheering her on. That was just our life – horses & competing. When I was younger and before I fell ill I rode at pony club for many years with the Shoalhaven Club and began riding dressage in junior competitions.
My mum, Barbara was a champion rider and at one stage was unbeatable with her Andalusian gelding “Gofa Bjorn”, a true team that I admired from a young age. Together mum and good family friend Blas Lago trained together everyday spending countless hours training and perfecting movements. As you can see I’ve had extremely talented riders in my life, teaching me everything I know today. Blas jokes at how strong willed I was as a kid! I guess some things never change.
There were long periods of times where I was unable to ride and I would spend hours watching my mum from my chair, training and showing our horses; when I was too sick to go outside I would study and research everything about the breed. I have always found researching pedigrees interesting & my knowledge of the breed is quite advanced. I have traveled to Spain to see many studs and my plan in the future is to learn Spanish and travel again. The PRE Andalusian breed & riding has always been in my blood, a raging passion! Even after my first hip replacement I was back riding a month later and the drive to compete was always fierce!
When I met my fiancé, Michael he showed unconditional support for me to follow my dreams and find the determination again to achieve my goals of riding in the Paralympics. With my passion for the PRE Andalusian and the dressage world being obsessed with Warmbloods I felt torn, as the barriers of discrimination are still quite high, even in the Para Equestrian sport. However, my passion for the breed was too strong and I set out to build my side of the stud my parents had founded and the search for the ‘perfect riding partner’ began. In 2010 I imported a magnificent 8 month old colt HANNA PODEROSO by the Reproductor Calificado stallion JALEADOR DE JC III (IMP) a sire sharing some of his genetics with such stallions as ILLES, who is a dressage mount for Victor Alvarez and UBIO, who made international dressage headlines, for being the first ever PRE stallion licensed for a German Warmblood studbook. Sam, as we call him, is an extremely smart 2yo colt and was selected as a future stud and dressage mount based on his superior genetics, future height and bone structure.
My PRE APTO Andalusian mare ANDALUKA DIVA is broken to saddle and is a fine example of the breed. DIVA will begin her dressage career mid 2013 and later on will be put in foal to HANNA PODEROSO. Stepping away from the PRE’s I have recently purchased a magnificent 9yo Off the Track Thoroughbred gelding, GET UP JUDE from the NSW Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Trust, an organization setup to re-train quality racehorses and rehome them to suitable people for dressage, eventing & allround. – Jude was a champion stayer in his racing career, earning approx. $400,000 and had qualified for the Melbourne Cup. Jude is a gentle boy, perfect movement for dressage and most of all I fell in love with his beautiful sole & huge heart. I plan to train JUDE to be my second Para Dressage horse (Eddy’s side kick)
“EDDY” (ANDALUKA ELEGIDO)
Eddy is my beautiful 7yo PRE APTO Andalusian Stallion who has been my ‘partner in crime’ since April 2012, after purchasing him from our dear family friends Helen & Ian Clutterbuck, founders of one of the oldest studs in Australia – Andaluka Stud.
I fell in love with Eddy instantly – he was standing in a paddock with a mop of hair, dreadlocks in his tail and completely covered in dirt… he was an untouched beauty! Going into his paddock he sniffed my body all over and then buried his head in my jumper like a big sook – I knew then I had to take him home. When I came back from my 14 hour round trip I told my parents I was planning to purchase a 6yo PRE Andalusian stallion, unbroken, yet his amazing temperament and cadence movement was to die for. The look on their faces was priceless.
Eddy had never left the property let alone been on a float or truck and after a 14 hour journey he finally arrived at my property. At the time my fiancé Michael & I were touring with a Spanish Judge. The day Eddy arrived I was fortunate to be home and excitedly showed Anau, the Spanish Judge, my rough diamond. Anau LOVED my scruffy stallion and saw the potential and perfection of what he would be like in a few months. Amazing movement and strong Spanish looks were his comments and with that Anau classified Eddy , APTO (Approved for breeding with the Spanish Stud Book).
Over the following weeks, I spent countless hours with Eddy building his trust and spoiling him with lots of brushes and cuddles. He adored the other horses and loved playing along the fence line with my young colt and gelding. I must confess I spent hours watching him. He was just so pure, innocent and wanted to be everyone’s friend, even the birds in his paddock!
After 3 months of having Eddy and building a strong relationship, I made the decision to break him in. With his amazing temperament, looks and wow factor movement, I thought he would be a great Para Equestrian horse. It was a gamble as he wasn’t your typical international Para Equestrian horse, however what did I have to lose? I spoke to my coach, Jim Collin and with that we started late July 2012. The first week was spent lunging and getting Eddy used to commands. Following week – Backed him and even I sat on his back! – TOO EASY. Week 3 – Eddy and I were trotting around the arena like pros! Jim had 100% faith and assured me Eddy would not put a foot wrong. To this day Jim says he was the easiest horse he has broken in.
Due to my disabilities my aids are quite different and when I ride there are many restrictions. I have little use of my legs and my stirrups have a habit of falling out, I have no movement in my feet, which is difficult for legs aids, however Eddy has learnt the different touches of crops on his shoulders or rump and knows exactly what aids I am asking for. Being a horse for a disabled rider is challenging. They must do certain actions perfectly and there is no room for errors. Eddy has leant to stand still like a soldier while I get on & off which takes time and usually I have to slide off slowly or climb on with legs rolling over his rump. If I lose my balance he has learnt to stop until I correct myself. All of this has been learnt by praising him and of course food! On the ground Eddy is a perfect gentleman, I walk very slowly and with aids so all my horses have been taught to wait and walk slowly.
It is now March 2013 and in just a few months Eddy has blossomed into a magnificent dressage horse, a true athlete. My level of disability is has been re-assessed from Grade III to Grade II due to the deterioration of my body. The movements I am expected to perform are walk, trot, canter and lateral work. We train 6 days a week and if my body can’t cope on a certain day I am forced to rest, thankfully for me Eddy is no different after a few days off, if anything he enjoys a rest and comes back more enthusiastic! Together we have lessons with Australian FEI Grand Prix rider Blas Lago and FEI rider Jim Collin. In April Eddy and I will be attending a 3 day clinic in with Olympic rider Goncalo Carvalho, who rode the Lusitano stallion ‘Rubi AR’ to fame in the London Olympics. I must say I am extremely excited about the Clinic.
As well as looking after the wellbeing and health of myself I also have to look after my horses soundness and wellbeing. A bit like a car – if you don’t keep good fuel and oil to them, you can run into problems and the car can break down. This is the same with competition horses. If your horse breaks down… you are stuffed!
I have never been a believe in synthetic drugs to obtain my horses health and this is why I love TECHNYFLEX… it is 100% natural and hey if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for my horses!
While Eddy is young, fit, healthy with no joint issues, it is important to obtain this. This is why I have introduced TECHNYFLEX into his nighttime feed. Only 2 scoops are needed to obtain peak performance. TECHNYFLEX is an amazing anti-inflammatory product, packed full with Omega 3 oils and works well on joints however, it also helps nourish ligaments and tendons, which I find appealing. I have noticed my horse’s recover is better from long training sessions and I believe TECHNYFLEX is responsible for this. Since purchasing GET UP JUDE an ex race horse I have introduced TECHNYFLEX into his diet also. While he is a fit and talented horse he was very sore when he came to me, which does not surprise me as he was a champion stayer and I believe many years of racing has created some wear and tear of his joints. While it is early days I have found great results so far with his freedom in movement, less inflammation in his joints, shine in his coat and just his general happiness – so he must be feeling a lot better and it’s only been 3 weeks!
The support I have received from Natural Health NZ has been wonderful. Their amazing products MOBICOSA and TECHNYFLEX keep both my horses and myself at peak performance level.and this is the most important aspect of what I do. As long as I am fit and healthy and my horses are happy and comfortable then the rest is just a bonus.
THE END RESULT
My goal is to compete nationally and internationally to qualify myself and Eddy for the 2016 Paralympics Games in Rio and show the world exactly how magnificent the PRE Andalusian is. Over the last few months I have done an array of advertising, promoting myself and Eddy with reference to the breed. The feedback and support from the public has been truly amazing. I cannot go without mentioning the support from the AHAA NSW Branch for officially organizing Para Equestrian events to be held at the next NSW AHAA Dressage day in August & at the state show in October. This is a brilliant opportunity for Para-Equestrian and hopefully we will get more open clubs on board to hold our dressage tests.
Unfortunately funding my passion and goals is very expensive. This means I must fund all our training, traveling, competitions, equipment and medical costs for both my self and horses. This is why I have started to source sponsorship and donations. Every small contribution helps, let it be $1 or a magazine article exposing my story, I am always looking to share my story and promote the breed. If you would like to learn more please visit my website www.victoriadavies.com.au and for weekly updates and photos please visit my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/victoriaandeddy