Aldergrove's Barwick ‘doing it for Canada’
What a difference four years makes.
At the 2008 Paralympic Games, Barwick captured both a gold and silver medal in Para-Dressage events.
The gold was the first ever in Paralympic equestrian for Canada.
“There are two different feelings to it this time,” Barwick said in an email to The Times from London last week, where she is preparing to represent Canada for a second time at the Paralympic Games.
The Games begin Aug. 29 and run until Sept. 12.
“First, there is lots of pressure now,” she said. “There are new expectations from the world since they know I am capable, so now I don’t want to let people down.
“Before, I was still in search of a medal with hopes of winning one, but not such an expectation.”
There is also a feeling of relief, already having reached the pinnacle of her sport.
“This time, I am doing it for Canada and my supporters,” she said.
“More than anything, I wish my fellow teammates to be able to have the feeling of success I have.”
Barwick, who turns 35 next month (Sept. 12), has been riding horses since she was seven years old and as she got older, competed in both eventing and show jumping.
Her life took an unpredictable turn in 2000 when a bale of hay from an unstable stack fell on top of her. Barwick was left with a broken back and was paralyzed from her waist down.
One year after the accident, Barwick began focusing on para-equestrian sport with the help of coach Sandra Verda.
Barwick said she was always confident in her abilities.
“I always had high ambitions and set high goals for myself and am pleased that I was able to achieve them,” Barwick said.
“The road has had some huge barriers in it and I now call them ‘my daily dose of how bad do you want this?’ test.”
She added that she could not have made it as far as she has without support from her friends, family, sponsors, and of course, her country.
“In every way imaginable, the unconditional support from family and friends has been beyond believable,” Barwick said.
“When I think they have done more than their share to support me, they go the extra mile for me.”
Barwick, who earlier this year achieved her 4-star Parelli professional instructor rating, has been training in Florida and is also a senoir protege and mentor in the Parelli Natural Horsemanship’s Mastery Program.
She credited the sponsorship she receives from Parelli, as well as support from Sport Canada, Athletes CAN and the Own the Podium program for allowing her to not work and just focus on training.
Another change has been her horse. In 2008, she rode Maile to the podium, but in London, she will be aboard Off to Paris, a 2001 Chestnut Oldenburg mare owned by Equine Canada, and Ferdonia 1, a 1999 German Oldenburg mare Barwick owns.
Barwick has loaned Maile to one of her fellow Team Canada riders, Ashley Gowanlock