17 August 2017

Riding her horse Rappa, Mikaela Worth recently made her way into the Reserve Champion position for Grade 1 at the Para Equestrian Dressage event held in Sydney.

The three-day event, held at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre earlier this year, was Mikaela’s first time to compete at this level as well as one of the few times to compete outside of the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association).

The Para Equestrian event is divided into three tests – Teams, Championship and Freestyle. Mikaela explains, “Everyone competes in the same Team and Championship tests for their grade whereas the Freestyle test has compulsory movements but the rider decides the sequences and extras they wish to add in. The Freestyle section is fun and you can be much more creative because the whole section is set to music.”

Mikaela, who has Cerebral Palsy, took out Reserve Champion in the Para Equestrian Dressage Grade 1 section.

“I was quite nervous, but also extremely proud of what Rappa and I have managed to achieve. Rappa will mirror my emotions, so I’ve got to be in control once the event starts and focus on our movements.”


When talking about her relationship with Rappa, Mikaela said, “The relationship between the two of us is an interesting one! For starters we’ve been both described as stubborn, but we usually come to a compromise. Rappa is awesome in trying her hardest for me and knowing it’s me on board. For example just for me to mount her takes at least 3 people to get me on depending if my body wants to behave. This can be quick or fairly time consuming for me and Rappa. She is very good at reading my body and understanding my voice command. We still have a long way to go in our relationship (as it is still very new) but I’d like to keep on improving and see how far we can go.”

Mikaela started riding at RDA in NSW’s Nepean Centre in 1997 as both a therapy and a sport. In 2004, she made the move with her family to the Mid North Coast where she joined RDA NSW’s Manning Great Lakes Centre, learnt about Para Dressage and began competing in the RDA Dressage Competition in 2009. In 2015 Rappa came into her world and they’ve been riding in both RDA circles and more recently Para Equestrian competition ever since. In the lead up to an event Mikaela can be training at least 4 times a week before and after work.

Mikaela also juggles a four-day week training schedule with her job as a full- time Administrator for Life Without Barriers in Taree.

“I am an Administration Officer based  in Taree working for both the Mid North Coast Disability team and Upper Hunter Out of Home Care team,” says Mikaela. “What I enjoy most about working as part of two teams and with Life Without Barriers is that every day is different and that since commencing with LWB I’ve gained so much more knowledge outside of your typical admin role.”

“As my employer, Life Without Barriers has been so supportive and understanding about what I do as a rider. My co-workers are especially encouraging and send phenomenal messages of support every time I compete. I am so thankful,” says a humbled Mikaela.

Acknowledgement: Many thanks to journalism student Mim Haigh for the contribution she made to writing this story. Thanks Mim!

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