People have mentioned that eventing editor Pippa Roome and I are opening up too much in our blogs. Humour us, we’ve been away from our shrinks for two whole weeks now and this is like therapy.
On top of which, yesterday was emotional; there’s no two ways about it. The paradressage team event reached a conclusion, featuring performances that humbled and motivated us all. But fear not, I’ll endeavour to keep my schmaltz under control.
Stinna Tange Kaastrup is a friendly, pretty, eloquent 16-year-old Dane. She is an accomplished rider and, despite only just being old enough to represent her country at a world games, yesterday she took the paradressage grade Ia bronze medal. What is more, her score was enough to put Denmark ahead of the Netherlands and on to the team medal podium, too. All this and Stinna actually has no legs.
There’s achievement, and then there’s achievement against the odds, and then there’s this kind of achievement, which appears impossible. Stinna was overwhelmed when her score came through, her compatriots applauded her and she cried, and her brother cried, and if you’d been there you’d have cried, too.
Everyone present was in awe of this teenager’s bravery, ambition and talent. But in addition, I got to thinking again how much other riders could learn from Stinna. What excuse has anyone got for nagging their horse with their aids, or not being able to get him infront of their leg? If riders with little or no strength can produce an accurate dressage test on a horse working forward into a soft contact in a correct outline, those without disability have no excuse for resorting to strength when they are not getting the response they’re after.
If you ever have a chance to go and watch a paradressage championships, I’d say take it. Not out of sympathy, I’m not a worthy sort; on the contrary, in an entirely self-interested way. There’s not a horseman who couldn’t learn something from these uber-talented riders to their benefit.
We’ve only got three days left here in Kentucky, which is looking stunning with its autumnal leaves under clear skies. The driving marathon tomorrow is going to be a picture. The sun is toasty, which might make their challenge harder, but is a huge relief to me as I’ve run out of clean warm clothes so am back in dresses. Here’s to making the most of it (ie turning a nice shade of lobster).