This Competitive Dressage Rider is Blind

Nicola Naylor

Dressage is hard enough when you can see, but I can’t imagine trying to keep my horse straight or ride perfect circles while being blind. Nicola Naylor competes nationally and internationally. And not just in para- events.


Blind dressage rider, Nicola Naylor, competes nationally and internationally in para and non-disabled events. But how does she do that if she can’t see?

Naylor’s coach, Daniel Watson, is an integral part of her strategy. He stands in the middle of the ring, at X, and calls out the letters about a meter before she reaches them. This helps her know where she is in the ring at all times. Naylor says that knowing where her horse’s shoulders are helps keep her horse straight. Honestly, I think that’s a very small part of the miracle she’s accomplished.

I think we should all try going out and riding with our eyes closed. Zelda or Freedom could probably make it around the ring and stay on the rail, but a round circle? That’s difficult enough when my eyes are open.

What an inspiration she is to all of us about how much you can accomplish against even great odds.

One thought on “This Competitive Dressage Rider is Blind

  1. WOW. Incredible. There’s a woman who rides a blind Appaloosa out here on the West coast, the horse is eyeless, and yet gallops, jumps, etc. Now I see this blind rider. It tells me that the bond we have with horses makes it so that we can communicate intricate things like dressage. Wow.
    Funny you mention riding with our eyes closed. When I first began riding Raven, I did it bareback, would drop the reins and close my eyes, just so I could begin to FEEL him. It was disconcerting at first…we use our eyes to balance so much more than you can believe until you try it…but it did wonders for teaching me to balance. I never went faster than a walk, though. I don’t have Nicola’s courage!
    By the way, her horse is drop dead gorgeous.

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