‘He’s the ultimate para horse’: rider overcomes rollercoaster journey to shine at para dressage World Championships

  • Australia’s Emma Booth and Furst Deluxe set a new personal best in the World Para Dressage Championships results for grade III following a rollercoaster journey to Herning.

    Emma, who has been clocking impressive results on the European circuit this year, continued her purple streak with a new personal best in the “team” test, on which the individual medals are decided, of 70.77% with new ride Furst Deluxe. Emma and “Fursty” finished sixth in the grade III individual Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Championships results, putting them in strong contention for a place in Sunday’s freestyle.

    “He felt super,” said Emma, who has been contesting Maree Tomkinson’s nine-year-old stallion on the international circuit since June.

    “It’s warm out there I think, a little warmer than I was expecting, but he stayed with me. We maybe lost a little bit of energy towards the end, but overall, I’m really happy.”

    This is Emma’s fourth senior championship and her first without her “one in a million” campaigner Mogelvangs Zidane, who she sadly lost in March.

    Her partnership with “Fursty” came about through Australian grand prix rider, Kerry Mack, who has recently joined EA’s para high performance team.

    “She is very good friends with Maree and knew that in order to have an Australian team at the World Championships, one of the riders had to be from either grade I, II or III. At that stage, it was not looking like we had a combination that could fill that spot,” said Emma.

    Kerry mentioned the idea of Emma riding one of Maree’s horses, and at that stage, the horse in mind was one of Maree’s younger mares, Friday IV, who Emma contested in qualifying events. They also decided to see how she would get on with Fursty.

    “He was just awesome,” said Emma. “The first ride [I had on him] brought Maree to tears. It’s testament to her training – she’s had the horse since he was a two- or three-year-old, and to be able to put a para rider on and for in the first ride to be doing some leg yields…

    “He just he tries really hard and his training is so solid that I’m able to be such a different rider [to that he is used to] and he just continues about his business and stays in his contact and in his frame.

    “He is the ultimate para horse, because he only improves when you bring him out to a show. He gets into the atmosphere and [gives you] a little bit more power. But he’s so solid in everything on the ground. He’s so easy. You can trust him. He’s a really super horse.”

    But while Emma and the rest of the Australian riders were finalising their preparations, outside a storm was brewing.

    Equestrian Australia (EA) announced in July that it would not be sending any riders to compete at the World Para Dressage Championships. The news prompted outcry, including a 11,000-strong petition, prompting EA to make a U-turn on its decision.

    “It was tricky,” said Emma. “One second you feel we’ve qualified and we were coming, the next minute you’re not, and then you are coming again. So we were really disappointed, then really excited and it’s just been a case of managing those emotions.

    “But I think, ultimately, it was a bit of relief to get here. And I think that probably added to just getting into the arena and wanting to do the job because there was the possibility that we weren’t going to be able to do that.

    “To have that chance [to be here] was, I think, extra special because of the bumpy road in the lead up.”

    Emma is joined in Herning by her team-mates grade IV Dianne Barnes, who scored 67.38% with Cil Dara Cosmic in the World Para Dressage Championships results for grade IV on Wednesday, and Lisa Martin, who starts her World Championship campaign in the grade V contest this afternoon.

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits. 

    You may like...