It’s reining men: World Championship aim as star Brits take on new discipline

  • Para dressage medallist Ricky Balshaw is coming out of retirement to compete in a World Championship reining qualifier with fellow GBR star Sir Lee Pearson.

    Current squad member Lee has won a staggering 11 gold Paralympic dressage medals and this will be his first foray into the world of reining.

    Ricky retired from dressage and stepped down from the British squad in May 2016, but will be making a return to the saddle for the first time since on Friday (26 May).

    The pair will be competing at the para reining World Championship qualifier at the International Garden of England Spring Show (26-30 May) at Bodiam International Arena in East Sussex.

    Ricky told H&H he is looking forward to the weekend.

    “I don’t really remember whose idea it was or where it came from — whether it was from the reiners or Lee,” he laughed.

    “One minute I’m retired and the next I’m thinking about going to the World Championships!”

    The 30-year-old hung up his competition boots almost exactly a year ago saying he was “was getting to the stage where I want different things from life”.

    Ricky started competing on the senior British para team at the age of 14.

    During his competitive career he won medals at Paralympic, European and World Championship level.

    A grade Ib rider, Ricky won freestyle silver at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics with Deacons Georgi.

    “There are things I haven’t missed, but obviously there are huge things I have,” he added.

    “I miss the people, the horses and the competition side of things.

    “Being competitive is something I have missed, so it will be good to do it one more time.”

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    This is the first para reining event to be held in the UK.

    “I am so excited to welcome Lee and Ricky into the sport of reining,” said organiser Francesca Sternberg.

    “I am sure that with such an iconic pair setting the ball rolling for para reining in the UK many more will want to follow.”

    The para reining World Championships will be held in Ermelo, the Netherlands, on 4-9 July 2017.

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