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Tales from Tryon: Meet the rider who puts Hurricane Florence in sharp perspective

While the remnants of Hurricane Florence caused disruption and disappointment at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon, with the cancellation of the dressage freestyle and postponement of the eventing showjumping, one rider knows all too well the far more damaging effects hurricanes can have.

Grade V para rider Lee Frawley (pictured riding at a competition at Hartpury) hails from the US Virgin Islands, a cluster of islands scattered in the Atlantic ocean, not far from Puerto Rico, that were devastated by two Category 5 hurricanes in September 2017.

“The place is still wrecked,” says Lee, 64, who was brought up riding on the beaches of the Virgin Islands, but now lives in the UK. “First we had Irma, which brought the winds, and then two weeks later Maria just dumped so much rain. My brother’s house was destroyed and my father’s badly damaged.

“It’s been such a journey to get to WEG, and it’s huge for me,” says Lee, her voice cracking. “We’re such a small team but to have the support of the islands is really special — they have other, more important things going on.”

Lee competed at the 2012 Paralympics and 2014 WEG with her old horse, Rhapsody, but has only had the ride on Anneke De Vree’s 18-year-old PS Panta Leone for a year.

“He came to me with the reputation of being a hot horse, but he’s much better in his mind than he used to be,” says Lee, who sadly had a disappointing ride in the individual after the gelding became unsettled towards the end.

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“I overrode the extended canter and it blew his brains,” rued Lee, who suffered complications from a badly broken leg after a riding accident 20 years ago.

“From my knee down I don’t have any use of my leg, and I can’t totally bend or straighten it,” she explains. “It’s mostly fine when riding, but I can’t do a Pony Club kick!”

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