76 horses from 27 countries passed the official horse inspection on August 25 – including the four Canadian entries. So all four horses that I introduced you to earlier will be ready to start competing on Aug. 26, 2021, with the Individual Test for Grades II, IV and V. Canada’s Paralympians, who are in Grades I and III, will take on the Individual Test on August 27. Three combinations will then compete for the maple leaf in the Team Test on August 28, with team medals decided after all Grades have performed the following day. Finally, the top eight combinations per Grade will move on to the Individual Freestyle on August 30 for their last shot at an individual medal. Today the journey began.
The veterinary inspection involves running with the horse for about 50 yards, turning around, and then running back. It is essential that the person leading the horse runs. No little pottering steps here. The person must step out and get the horse to move out well at the trot so the ground jury can see the horse is sound. Since this is not possible for the para riders their assistants and grooms fill in. And they all did a good job as all the horses passed.
The Paralympians are all looking forward to competing. Here is what Lauren Barwick had to say. “As my fifth Paralympics, I feel like this has been one of the best. We have come together as a team and united. I’m really looking forward to going down the centreline and supporting the rest of the riders.” Barwick has gold and silver medals from Beijing 2008.
Roberta Sheffield is looking forward to showing us her 12 year old mare Fairuza who she describes as her “heart horse” . They have collected many international top-three finishes since 2018, including wins at the 2018 Bishop Burton CPEDI 3* and 2019 Chi Al Shaqab and back-to-back second place finishes at the 2021 NAF Five Star Hartpury Festival of Dressage. “It is absolutely an honour to be here,” commented Sheffield. “It is the most beautiful venue, extraordinarily decorated and just a beautiful, culturally gorgeous space to compete in and represent Canada. To wear the maple leaf is always wonderful but this is super special.”
I wish the best of luck and happy rides for all four Canadian Para Equestrians.
- All photos Jon Stroud Media for Equestrian Canada.