H&H’s Tokyo horse of the day: Solitaer 40 – ‘Championships are absolutely his jam’

  • Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 may not have picked up an individual medal for the USA on day one of the Paralympic dressage at the Tokyo Games, but they had a thoroughly great time dancing in the arena in the grade IV category.

    Their final score of 70.85% meant that Kate and Solitaer 40 finished seventh on their Paralympic dressage debut, and although Kate admitted she was a little disappointed with her score, she could not have been happier with the 14-year-old Sandro Hit son. The two certainly looked to be in perfect harmony in the arena.

    “We hoped to be in the medals, but all I can do is be happy with my performance in the ring and I absolutely love my horse to pieces so I wouldn’t change anything,” she said. “The energy in there was phenomenal – it gives you this sense of power, and Soli can feel it and it was just so much fun.

    “Championships are absolutely his jam – when you add that little bit of energy he turns into something really special and it’s a feeling like none other.”

    The USA's Solitaer 40 and Kate Shoemaker in the Paralympic Dressage in Tokyo

    The USA’s Kate Shoemaker shows her delight with Solitaer 40 after their grade IV individual test

    Kate and Solitaer 40 have a partnership dating back seven years, and won an individual bronze medal together at the World Equestrian Games in 2018 in Tryon. But it wasn’t always plain sailing for Kate and the gelding she describes as her “best friend”.

    “When I first rode Soli and showed him, I was told to sell him, and that I would never be able to ride him,” revealed Kate, who works as a vet, and suffers from white matter lesions from periventricular ischemia, causing motor control dysfunction, muscle weakness, and spasms on the right side of her body.

    “But we then went on to win our first national championship. I was told it wouldn’t get any better than that, and that WEG was a long shot. Well we went to WEG, and won a medal. So now I think people will stop telling us what we can’t do,” said Kate.

    Kate and Soli arrived in Tokyo off the back of 18 consecutive international wins, including in able-bodied dressage at small tour level. But while Soli is undoubtedly talented in the dressage arena, Kate revealed that the Hanoverian gelding is a total “goofball” at home

    “If anyone checks my Facebook they’ll just see a bunch of pictures of Soli yawning over me, or looking me up one side and down the other. He’s just a complete doofus and I love him so much,” she laughed.

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