‘Becoming a foster father has made me an emotional wreck’: Sir Lee Pearson on Tokyo, going grand prix and being a father

  • Sir Lee Pearson was one of the British heroes from the Tokyo Paralympics in August, winning two individual gold medals on his home-bred Breezer and leading the British team to their incredible team gold. This was Lee’s sixth Paralympics – he has ridden at every single one starting with Sydney in 2000 – and he has now amassed 14 Paralympic gold medals, but he described the Tokyo Games as a “fairytale”.

    “Everybody pulled together with zero egos and it was such an honour to be part of the whole team. This Games was brilliant for that reason, and brilliant as we had no expectations on us, and of course the team result. It was like a dream; it was surreal,” the grade II rider told H&H dressage dressage editor Polly Bryan on episode 67 of the Horse & Hound Podcast, shortly after he returned from Tokyo. 

    “In the final day’s freestyle to music, Breezer gave me the best test he’s ever given me, in able-bodied and in para dressage. He was on the aids, soft, and really listening, I just fell in love with him all over again. He gave me his little heart out there.”

    Lee Pearson’s Paralympics ride: ‘He’s bred like a Ferrari’

    For the first time, Britain had gone into a Paralympics without being the favourites to win the team gold, owing to the youth and inexperience of the three horses on the team, none of whom had ever competed at a championship before. Lee’s Barcardi x Metall son Breezer is only 10 years old, but Lee has known him, quite literally, since day one.

    “I’ve known Breezer since he was hours old, in the field at my parents in Staffordshire,” he says. 

    “The sport was heading in a very expensive direction after we converted from riding borrowed horses in 2004, so I bought a broodmare 13 years ago and started planning my future competition horses,” Lee explains. “She was by Metall, by Ferro. I also had a Breitling son who I bought as a foal, and had graded as a stallion. I sold him, but kept some frozen semen, so produced Breezer’s full-brother, called Benson, then Breezer.

    “My previous partner had done some competitions on Breezer, and I took over the ride a few years ago. He is naturally very sensitive, and he’s bred like a Ferrari.”

    Lee sold Benson, but he did keep Breezer’s half-sister Styletta, whom he rode at the World Equestrian Games in 2018. The Sandros Dancer daughter is now 12 and Lee is aiming to compete her at grand prix.

    “I did my first inter I with Styletta the other day – it was my first inter I too – and I was over the moon with her. If I can grow some confidence we might try to get out at grand prix at the end of this year, or the start of next year,” he revealed. “It will be awfully messy but before I ever retire… Well, it’s everybody’s dream, isn’t it? We’re just sorting those canter zig-zags at the moment, and getting a bit more engagement in the piaffe and passage.”

    While Lee is as much of a force to be reckoned with in the dressage arena as ever, his life has undergone huge change over the past year, having become a foster father in 2020. 

    “It’s made me into an emotional wreck,” he said, of fostering 15-year-old Jenson. “We get on really well and he’s great. He completes my life, and my family.”

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