Natalie South, aged 29 from Romford, Essex, has achieved her most prestigious Para Dressage victory thanks to the ‘energy-saving’ qualities of the TGA Maximo mobility scooter.
Natalie has been in the saddle regularly since the age of five. She was initially introduced to horse riding by her physiotherapist as a therapeutic activity to help with her Cerebral Palsy. She currently rides at the Chigwell Riding Trust, which is part of the RDA network (Riding for the Disabled Association), where she has developed a talent for Dressage. Her RDA horse, Hugo (who is owned by Chigwell Riding Trust), has competed with her at various tournaments which has led to selection for Great Britain at a 1* level. Natalie continues to train hard with a view to being selected for the Elite Squad which opens up the possibility of competing in the Paralympics. Her latest success was at the Para Winter Championships held at the Myerscough Arena in Lancashire – Natalie achieved first place in her Silver Class. She feels this achievement, in part, was due to owning a TGA Maximo mobility scooter. The Maximo is a popular 4mph mid-sized folding scooter that is transportable and fits in the boot of larger cars.
Natalie says: “My Maximo is amazing! I can honestly attribute some part of my recent win to owning a Maximo. This is because I was able to conserve energy before competing as I did not have to struggle trying to walk around the event. I haven’t owned my TGA mobility scooter for very long however I already intend to take it to all competitions in the future. Each round is only five minutes in the arena however it takes lots of concentration and precision movement to score well – which is quite tiring. I felt fresh mounting Hugo this time and it paid off with 1st place, I am so chuffed, especially after my disappointment last year.”
When Natalie competed at the same event in 2018 she experienced a bad fall as Hugo was spooked by another horse. Despite being hurt and shaken, she still managed to enter the competition however Natalie finished in last place. 2019 was completely different as she explains: “I felt confident on Hugo this time and was determined to win. As I am only five foot high and Hugo is 16 hands, my previous fall was quite upsetting however I am now over that. I scored 70.5% which was enough to beat all the other competitors by a clear margin, I was ecstatic. Being able to sit on my Maximo was also a massive plus during the winning ceremony. Standing for extended periods of time is really hard for me but this time I could relax in comfort as my prize was announced. Getting into the middle of the sandy arena was no problem for my TGA scooter.”
Natalie now continues to work with her coach to improve and progress through the rankings. “Back at my RDA centre, I will be using my Maximo more in the stables, arena and surrounding fields” says Natalie. “If Hugo is ok with it, I should be able to lead him around whilst driving my scooter as it is quiet and smooth. On delivery, I drove it around the arena and on grass without any problems. I have seen other riders use scooters in a yard so I’m hoping I will have more independence with my Maximo – currently I have to rely on stable staff for some tasks. My partner always travels with me so getting it in and out of the car is easy, even I have mastered the simple folding technique!”
Away from horse riding, Natalie works as a Project Manager for Attitude is Everything, a charity which supports festival organisers so their events are accessible. Natalie plans to benefit from her new TGA Maximo when the festival season starts as she concludes: “My day job involves advising venue owners and festival organisers on accessibility at events – it’s a role I revel in as an avid music lover, particularly rock and heavy metal. I guess I am not your average horse rider! With my Maximo I will be able to whizz around during set up at festivals such as Download and Glastonbury… making my job much easier and ensuring more disabled people have a good time.”