Jody Schloss is on the Canadian Para dressage team heading to Denmark, next week, for the World Para Dressage Championships. I emailed her my questions and she responded. I was inspired by her answers.
Tell me about your disability.
When I was 23, and was in University at UBC on a summer break my friend Karen from Toronto and decided to go on driving trip through Central America. We drove to San Diego, and flew to Costa Rica. Then we took the bus back up through Central America. We had left my vehicle at my father’s condominium in Palm Springs. So we went to pick it up. We were on the highway on the way to Las Vegas. There was a wind storm, and it made my vehicle flip 4 times down the highway. My friend hit her head and was killed right away. I was in a coma for 4 months and post-traumatic amnesia for 6 months. It was determined that the car had a design flaw, and I ended up suing the company. I sued the company, which thankfully gave me the money to be able to ride professionally.
How does your disability affect your life?
I’m still taking Physiotherapy to improve my initial injury in terms of walking, and I also work on strengthening my position, and other aspects regarding riding. I also take Pilates to strengthen my core and aide in my riding. My disability occurred so long ago that I don’t really consider it a disability anymore, but instead it’s part of me. I don’t think of it in a negative way! I wouldn’t be competing on the Canadian Paralympic team if I didn’t have a disability.
I didn’t have a disability growing up. I was injured when I was 23. The difficulty for me was getting used to people treating me like a disabled person. Also, it was very difficult becoming dependent on other people. This wasn’t only due to my physical disability. I have a severe speech disability. I don’t have a problem with language, but rather a problem producing speech. As a result, I often feel trapped without being able to express myself. Technology is improving, and it is becoming much easier! I have also been working very hard at improving my speech, so it’s also improving.
When did horses come into your life? Was there any particular person who was instrumental in getting you into horses and riding?
I always enjoyed animals growing up. My father grew up in a small town, and he owned a horse. He rode Western, but he definitely got me interested in horses. We went on many trail rides until I was 11, and started taking lessons at a barn in Edmonton when I was 11. I continued talking lessons when I moved to Toronto. When I was 14, my father bought me my first horse. I worked cleaning stalls on the weekend, and at a vet clinic to pay for my horse. I would definitely say that my father played a big part in my riding!”
Tokyo was your second Olympics. You rode Lieutenant Lobin in Tokyo. Who did you ride in the London 2012 Olympics?
I am very lucky to have had 2 of the most special horses in the world! In 2012 in the London Paralympics, I was lucky enough to be riding my first super star, Inspector Rebus. He is a grey Dutch Warmblood. He was 13 in 2012. Unfortunately he developed Cushing disease, so I had to buy Lieutenant Lobin to compete on. Lobin and Rebus are now best friends. Rebus taught Lobin everything he needed to know about competing with me in Para-Dressage.
What can you tell me about Lobylu ( I see on social media this is your pet name for him. ) What is his breeding? How did you find him? Does he have any little personality quirks that you find amusing?
Lobylu (Lieutenant Lobin) was found after looking around the United States and Canada at many different horses. My original coach, Jessica Rhinelander found him for me. She had told the horse dealers in Wellington, Florida. Bianca Tota contacted Jessica, and told her she had just imported a horse from Denmark that she thought was perfect for me. I went to see him, and he was very cuddly, and I loved his movement, and he had a beautiful over tracking walk. I fell in love with him instantly. Lobin is a Danish Warmblood. At the World Equestrian Games in 2018, Lobin’s breeder from Denmark came to find me. So I am looking forward to finding his breeder again in Denmark! But I have told Lobylu that he’s Canadian now, so he’s coming back to Canada afterwards.
Lobin is very cuddly! He always neighs when he sees or hears my wheelchair. At WEG in 2018, he was really disappointed when another rider in a wheelchair came by his stall, and he realized it wasn’t me. In Tokyo, he always got really excited when I came to see him, and would lick my entire face.
You are off to the World Championships in Herning Denmark next week. Congratulations for making the Canadian Para Dressage Team! How do you feel about this championship? You are a pro with the big shows having done two Olympics but is there anything about this championship that you think might be different?
I am actually really excited about these championships, because Lobin is doing really well. Unlike in the past Lobin is at his peak. We have been able to ride off property, and feel like we are a lot more prepared than before!
I have seen you ride in the CPEDI at Global in 2020. You ride without stirrups. I was told that this is because the spasticity in the legs is worse with stirrups. Is this correct and is that why you ride without stirrups?
Actually I don’t have spasticity in my legs!! I used to lose my stirrups a lot due to Ataxia. However I had rubber bands to hold my feet in the stirrups. Clive Milkins who is Equestrian Canada’s technical advisor, suggested I ride without stirrups, because I often pull my legs up or off when riding. If I ride without stirrups I am forced to keep my legs on long and low in order to keep my balance. I’m forced to use my legs properly if I don’t use stirrups.
.Thank you Jody for taking the time to answer my questions.. I am inspired by the thought that you have found a way to see your disability in a positive way, and now you are representing Canada again in a World Championship. All the best of luck for you and the others on the Canadian Para dressage Team!🍁🍁🍁