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Shattered ambitions: The riders who’ve had to put their dreams on hold *H&H Plus*

Whether it’s the Olympics or a grassroots championship, many of this year’s major targets are now off the agenda. Polly Bryan finds out how riders are coping with their shattered ambitions and seeks psychological advice

Sport is all about dreams. Big or small, they are the reason athletes get up every morning and push themselves to the max, just to get a little closer to their goal. Equestrian sport is no different – if anything, when there is a horse involved, achieving those dreams is even more rewarding. For some, it’s the Olympics – riding for your country on the biggest sporting stage there is. For others, it’s qualifying to ride at a particular prestigious venue, or competing in top hat and tails.

But what about when these dreams fall by the wayside, as they have for so many riders around the world in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic? The moment it was announced that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics were to be postponed to 2021 was unprecedented – never in history have the Games been postponed. For all those riders who have shaped the past four years of their and their horse’s life around competing in Japan this summer, the situation is heartbreaking.

While the move was undoubtedly needed to save lives, this and the cancellation of so many other events, from Badminton Horse Trials to the Area Festival dressage finals, is testing riders’ mental toughness to the max.