H&H’s rider of the day: a new horse at first ever championship

  • Despite being a new partnership, and this being their first ever para championship, Dutch rider Demi Haerkens and her stunning chestnut mare EHL Daula pulled off an outstanding 76.02% performance to land second in the grade IV team test at the Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Championships results.

    Demi has only been riding the 14-year-old KWPN mare by IPS Gribaldi for a few months, but already their partnership looks fluid and full of trust.

    “I was very happy, and although she was a bit hot today, I was proud of how she managed the test with me,” said Demi of Daula’s elegant performance. “She loves it when she enters the arena. She does everything I ask.”

    Although a relatively new face to para dressage, Demi has already made her mark this summer, landing numerous wins including an individual grade I win and second in the freestyle at Kronenberg CPEDI3*, and team and individual, plus runner-up in the freestyle, at Grote-Brogel CPEDI3.

    A member of an exceptionally strong Dutch team, Demi has been following closely on the heels of teammate Sanne Voets, who landed the grade IV win with 78.42% here in Herning.

    “I’m pretty honoured that I was asked to be a member of the team,” she said of her selection. “I’m really proud of that.”

    Demi admits she wasn’t looking for a horse quite as mature as Daula, but couldn’t help but fall in love with her.

    “I saw a video of her and new instantly that I must go and try her,” she explained. “And it was love at first sight.”

    A muscle nerve disease has left Demi weak with muscle pain and limited feeling in her hands, but she keeps enough balance to keep Daula up and together.

    “My aim is to make it look smooth and easy,” she added.

    And that’s exactly what she does. Her slick performance has left the Netherlands, one of the hot favourites for a team medal, in prime position.

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