Aistis Vitkauskas has been waiting a long time to compete at Badminton Horse Trials, having come close on two previous occasions, and today the Lithuanian rider finally had his chance to start at the five-star event, presented by Mars Equestrian.
“I was first accepted for Badminton 40 years ago, but then the horse was not ready. And 11 years ago we came here, but the horse had travel sickness,” he explains.
His dressage test with the 12-year-old Commander VG didn’t go to plan. This is never the horse’s strongest phase and today he got upset towards the end of the test, with resistance sending the marks plummeting to produce a final score of 48.1.
“It was a bit disappointing – he started well but probably the crowds and my stress level meant it ended a little bit on the edge,” says Aistis of the horse, he co-owns with Mogen and Birgitte Kloeve-Mogensen. “But he is a marvellous cross-country horses so I am looking forward to Sunday.”
Aistis produces horses for both eventing and showjumping from his home in Viborg, northern Denmark, where he has lived for 24 years with his wife, dressage rider Helene. Commander VG first came to him as a six-year-old and Aistis says that when it came to the dressage, “He took a long time to get to the business and understand what was going on.
“He’s a very intelligent horse but his problem is not that he gets stressed, but that he gets angry. If he makes a mistake he knows he has made a mistake and then he gets angry, and you can’t just tell him to calm down. With some horses you can give them a little pat but he just gets more angry.”
Aistis may have made Denmark his home, but he is proud to represent Lithuania, and also to show his support for almost-neighbour Ukraine with a pin badge on his jacket. He explains that there was an agreement between riders across the disciplines who represent Lithuania internationally to show their support for Ukraine.
“Also, I know some riders from Ukraine, who can’t compete now, so this is a gesture for them,” he added.
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