Nicola Naylor Invests in Yamaha

Behind every great sporting champion usually stands a team of people. It’s no different for Paralympian dressage rider Nicola Naylor, except that the support she needs has to cater for the fact that she is blind!

It is especially so in the dressage arena, aptly described as ballet on horseback. A member of Nicola’s team stands at the centre point and calls out the letters that tell her exactly where she will be a metre before her horse reaches the spot. The same degree of planning is needed right through her day; everything has to be meticulously placed so that she knows exactly how many steps it takes to find what she needs to do next.

It’s a similar story at her home in Appledore, Kent. There, she stables and works her younger and semi-retired horses in her own arena while travelling two hours four times a week to her trainer, Sarah Millis, in Horsham to train her other competition horses. Her arena at home has to be maintained to a high level of perfection, including the totally level surface with the correct degree of firmness on which she practices. For this, her key person is Sinead Balchin who, amongst other responsibilities, harrows the surface with great precision using a Yamaha Kodiak 450EPS buggy hauling a Chapman MG250 arena leveller. Nicola invested in both on the advice of Phil Turner, Area Sales Manager at Lister Wilder’s nearby Ashford depot.

The Chapman leveller is used world-wide for all types of equestrian arenas and is designed to be both robust and easy to use. The fully galvanised heavy-duty construction is based around a robust delta shape which deflects any fence posts with which it comes into contact. It has large wheels for easy and smooth towing and high-quality spring steel harrow tines, plus an optional rear consolidation roller.  

The Yamaha buggy also comes with a reputation for reliability and a reserve of power it doesn’t often need to use to perform its key role in Nicola’s 60 x 20 metre outdoor arena with its sand / fibre mix surface and underground irrigation system..The buggy’s drive system allows seamless switching between two and four-wheel drive at the push of a button, and there is also automatic transmission to smooth the process. 

For Nicola, the work carried out by the buggy and leveller are vital. “The maintenance of the surface is critically important and, depending on the time of year and how much it is being used, it needs harrowing a minimum of weekly,” she says.

The system put in place by Nicola seems to work. She competes not just as a Paralympian but also in able-bodied events. She was on the reserve list for the World Equestrian Games in 2022 and {add here re potential selection for European Games in September as appropriate}.

Nicola has ridden all her life, but in her childhood and teenage years had partial sight but managed to show jump with a pony. The transition to horses posed an altogether bigger set of issues so she stopped riding when she went to university and decided to pursue another career. Sadly, during her university years she lost the remainder of her sight. It was only when her daughter started competitive riding that she was encouraged to try it again and developed the system that has enabled her not just to compete but to succeed at a very high level. 

The partnership with Sarah and the other members of her support team is, she says, absolutely imperative. “They make it work for me,” she says gratefully. “Competing presents a lot of challenges and I have to go into a zone to keep my focus.”