‘I’m bursting to get back riding’: Natasha Baker on life as a new mum and Paris plans

  • It’s always a magical moment when a rider introduces their horse to a new baby and for Paralympic gold medallist Natasha Baker, it was no different.

    Natasha and her husband Marc Jaconelli welcomed their first son, Joshua Fio, on 25 April, and Natasha told H&H that taking him to meet her Tokyo gold medal-winning mare Keystone Dawn Chorus, aka Lottie, was a “gorgeous” moment.

    “She is the gentlest horse in the world, so I had no doubts she’d be a good girl, and she absolutely adored Joshua, and nuzzled his little feet. It was so gorgeous,” said Natasha, who says she is “absolutely loving” life as a new mother.

    “I’m loving every second, even the nights that aren’t so good. His little smile makes everything work it, and he’s been a dream really. Time is flying so Marc and I are trying to soak up every minute and just enjoy it.”

    Natasha Baker introducing baby Joshua to Keystone Dawn Chorus, aka Lottie

    Natasha Baker introducing baby Joshua to Keystone Dawn Chorus, aka Lottie

    Natasha Baker: ‘Baby Joshua was with me in Herning’

    The grade III para dressage rider found out she was pregnant shortly after winning individual silver and bronze at the World Para Dressage Championships in Herning last August.

    “I was very emotional in Herning, so being pregnant was probably having an impact,” she says. “Joshua would have been very tiny then but it’s lovely he was with me.

    I found out I was pregnant at five weeks, and I carried on riding until I was about 10-12 weeks, but I was so nauseous I couldn’t handle trotting, and because I ride without stirrups I was also worried about falling off, so I stopped riding as I didn’t want to risk it. This has been the longest I’ve not ridden for since I was about eight years old – I’m going to ache when I get back on.”

    Natasha is hoping to be back in the saddle by the end of June, and in the meantime, is spending time with Lottie most days, with her trainer Lisa Hopkins continuing to keep the Dimaggio mare fit.

    Lisa and Lottie have been out competing during Natasha’s pregnancy, qualifying for the Winter Dressage Championships where they finished third in the elementary gold. But Natasha’s sights are firmly set on the Paris Paralympics in 2024.

    “I’ve given myself until October or November to get back to where I was before, and then I can come out in January and hit the ground running ready for Paris.

    “I’m absolutely bursting to get back riding now, but my physio just wants me to do some more exercises beforehand. When I do, I’m going to just walk for a week and see how I feel. I’m keeping the plan as fluid as possible.

    “I’ve been watching as many competitions as possible over livestream while I’ve been off, and following the results. It’s good to see what’s been going on from a competitor’s point of view, but also as a commentator.”

    And it hasn’t taken long for Natasha to introduce baby Joshua to the dressage world in person.

    “He’s been to Royal Windsor and Wellington. It’s been nice to get out and be back in my world as I have really missed it. But I’ve had Joshua to enjoy.”

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