Team ready for the big time
Despite the monumental challenge of overcoming a serious back injury and suffering sickness, a month from the national championships, Paige Chilcott didn't let it hinder her preparations and is excited about the prospects of competing.
After placing in the top four at the Queensland State Championships in July, Chilcott has now been selected to compete in the Marcus Oldham Australian inter-school national championships in Sydney from September 27 to October 3.
Joining schools from across Australia, she will represent both Queensland and Chinchilla State High School in dressage.
It's been three years in the making for Chilcott and her horse, Badger, after he was not cleared for the event last year because he jumped the fence at the property and injured his knee, so she is looking forward to making the trip this year.
"I'm definitely nervous, that's bound to happen," she said.
"However I'm excited for the experience to see what it's like to be a part of the Queensland State Team and meet all these people and make new friends."
Preparations haven't been ideal for the pair after Chilcott injured her back doing aerobatics, leaving her unable to do any physical activity for a month in the lead-up to the competition.
She also came down with a bug for the past week but seems to have recovered just in time.
Participants would usually be practising three or four times a week, however due to the unfortunate circumstances for Chilccott she has been able to do just four lessons in total for the competition.
However she is not letting that hinder her, working just as hard to develop her connection with Badger as she believes this will be a determining factor in her success.
"It's not just about the horse, it's the rider and the horse together as one as that's what makes one particular rider stand out from the rest," she said.
"Badger and I have been a little up and down, he's still new to me but our connection has definitely been the strongest it has ever been for a very long time and I'm thrilled.
"We have definitely been working on ground manners as we have a lack of that sometimes.
"We will sometimes have little play dates where I will run him in around yard and he will just be him. He enjoys that.
"He definitely loves treats, they are his favourite, any kind, so that's a good way to build connection."
Not like your average 17-year-old girl, Chilcott wakes up every morning to do a 45-minute lesson before school, rides one day on the weekend and feeds Badger twice a day.
She said that sometimes she is at the stable more than she is at home.
Also sacrificing having a job and putting her horses over school work can be difficult at times but she absolutely loves it and knows it's worth it.
"If I could be on horse all day, I would," she said.
"It's absolutely amazing."