Dutch dressage rider Sanne Voets and her long-standing ride Demantur RS2 NOP bagged their 19th medal as a combination at the European Para Dressage Championships with grade IV freestyle silver this afternoon (9 September).
Sanne has taken a new approach in her training recently, complementing the scientific and data focus she applies to her horsemanship with a focus on the connection she has with herself.
Watch an interview with Sanne Voets after the freestyle medal ceremony at the European Para Dressage Championships
This involves breathwork and meditation, alongside studying human and equine biomechanics and how the two interact.
“The essence of our sport is really the connection with your horse as a rider. And I feel that if you want to improve that connection, you first have to improve the connection with yourself,” Sanne told H&H.
“So that meant that over the last year or so, we have really invested time and effort in breathwork and meditation and also physical fitness – diving into studying biomechanics of the horse and of me and how we influence each other. It’s a case of trying to connect better with myself and trying to get to know my horse better.
“Before we enter the arena, we just have a few minutes in the stable where it’s just me and him and if he wants to come to me, it’s OK – if he doesn’t, it’s OK.
“I know as soon as he gets his braids in, he finds his own routine too and he gets in his own bubble. It’s OK if he wants to do that without me, but I just want to tell him I am here for you. Just let me know when you need me and when you can come to me, I’m ready.”
The pair have been at the top of the sport for seven years, with 14 gold medals from Paralympic, World and European Championships – including the Dutch team gold from Riesenbeck this week. They also head home from Germany with two grade IV silver medals, finishing just behind team-mate Demi Haerkens and EHL Daula NOP in the individual and freestyle.
“He means the world to me. I have had him in my stables for almost eight years now and I still feel that our connection is getting stronger,” said Sanne.
“This morning we had the vet check for the freestyle and he was on fire – he was still so happy and fresh. To me the colour of this medal doesn’t really matter. He is my gold.”
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