IT'S been a long journey of perseverance for Scone's Andrew Driffield and his horse Toolbag.
Andrew was selected in the NSW State Dressage Squad after a very successful run at the Riding For The Disabled Association (RDA) NSW State Dressage Championships last weekend at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre.
Aboard Toolbag, sired by champion stallion Redoute's Choice out of the dam Strawberry Girl, Andrew won all three tests and became the first rider to represent the Upper Hunter Riding for the Disabled Association at the event.
Despite the achievement, Andrew said the main hurdle was just getting there.
Toolbag lost an eye a few years ago and injured his leg twice within a year.
But now, Andrew's much loved companion is on the mend, thanks to the dedicated staff at Scone Equine Hospital.
"The last couple of years my horse Toolbag kept hurting himself all the time and it's just been a disaster for a long time," Andrew explained.
"This was only his third event this year after he had a few problems in his back legs.
"Going into the event, he was a 50-50 chance of even getting there.
"However, Scone Equine Hospital managed to get him back on track again.
"The first test went really well and I was just overwhelmed and chuffed at how far he had come.
"It's been a long haul and it was great just being there with him."
It's been a long haul and it was great just being there with him.Andrew Driffield - Scone equestrian
Andrew has a long history competing in Dressage.
His love for horses began in Maitland when he was seven and grew when he spent eight years riding at Maitland Pony Club, before moving to Darwin with his mother.
"I stopped riding for about four or five years," he said.
"Then I went back to riding and competed in eventing for a while.
"In 1996 they asked me if I wanted to join the RDA Nationals in Adelaide - we decided to stay there and I was on the South Australia RDA squad between 1998 to 2011."
Andrew has been involved in the RDA ever since.
Moving to Scone six years ago, he became involved with Upper Hunter RDA.
Andrew spoke about some of the many highlights over his years competing in Dressage at countless Nationals.
In 1999 he was selected on the Australian Talent Squad and in 2004 he just missed out on competing in the Olympic Games.
"Horses have been part of my life since I was born," he said.
"My mum rode as a little girl in Merriwa and her father was a horse trainer as well and she passed on her knowledge to my brother and I."