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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Bridget bound for UK, with a little help from her friends

ABOVE: Bridget Murphy and her dressage pony Penmain Promise. Picture: ONE-EYED FROG

BRIDGET Murphy is a remarkable young woman.

The keen dressage rider was born with Multiple Pterygium Syndrome, meaning she has muscle weaknesses and joint formations that restrict her movement.

Despite her problems, Bridget was a keen rider at a young age and went through Pony Club, then through HRCAV where the leading Para Dressage rider Sharon Jarvis convinced her to compete as a Para competitor.

Since then, she has become a familiar and successful rider at Para events but Sharon has pushed Bridget to think bigger.

“It was Sharon Jarvis who suggested the idea of me going at the recent Dressage Spectacular, and it's all snowballed from there,” Bridget said.

Bridget rides at grade two, which are walk and trot tests, and in freestyle tests may show lateral work.

At the Dressage Spectacular show, she rode in the Para Dressage Super Clinic at Boneo Park.

“We had three lessons with Olympic Gold medallist Para dressage Sophie Wells OBE coming out of each one better than we went in,” Bridget said.

“Sophie's knowledge coupled with her ability to think outside the box is just outstanding.”

Bridget has recently been presented with an opportunity to ride in the UK in July.

This is an incredible opportunity for her to gain international competition experience leading up to the Paris Olympics. Additionally, as there are two other Australian riders going, it will give Australia an extra opportunity to post a team score for the world rankings.

“I think every horse rider has that dream of representing their country,” Bridget said. “There is always a way, you just have to find the way that works for you.”

ABOVE: Bridget Murphy has always been horse-mad. Picture: ONE-EYED FROG

Bridget is fully focused and committed to making her dream of representing Australia come true. “I so much appreciate the support from the community. None of my para dressage career would be possible without it, not just in regards to financial help, but the overall encouragement and kindness that keeps me going. It feels bigger than just me.”

Pairing and finding a horse that matches Bridget’s riding style is extremely important.

Her Australian dressage partner, the super pony Penmain Promise, cannot make the trip so an appeal was put out internationally for a suitable mount for her to compete with in England.

No doubt, the perfect mount is there and will be found and the fact that Bridget is such a popular rider means she will be followed closely by friends in Australia.

“I have a short list of three, the first two days will be test riding then I'll pick which one feels like the best match,” she said.

“Sophie Wells has sourced one for me, and the other two are nearby. I will have seven days over there before the competition starts to get comfortable on the horse.

The other two Australian riders going are Sharon Jarvis, with her coach Rozzie Ryan, and Stella Barton and her coach Sally Francis.

“We will all be helping and supporting each other, as Australians do,” Bridget said.

“I’m hoping to have my friend and groom Kate Arton to accompany me as my support person, as I could not physically do this trip on my own.” Bridget has worked extremely hard to get to the level she's at but now with the intense competition schedule and additional financial commitments that come with high performance sport, she is once again stepping out of her comfort zone and asking for help.

Up until now, with the help of sponsors and supporters, Bridget has been able to self fund her competitions, but now as the intensity, frequency and financial demands of competitions needed to reach her goals increases, a Go Fund Me page has been set up to help. All donations made over $2 are fully tax deductible and will go towards the competition fees, interstate travel costs for horse and rider, accommodation and equipment needed to compete and campaign for the 2024 Paralympics.

Donations can be made here: Help Get Bridget to Hartbury

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