“A unique level of inclusivity“: FEI European Championship Para Dressage in Riesenbeck comes to an end with five Freestyle winners
The FEI European Championship Para Dressage in Riesenbeck concluded on a high note with an exciting freestyle day, where spectators enjoyed harmonious rides accompanied by perfectly matched music, with several rider-horse pairs achieved personal bests.
“This has been a week of remarkable Para Dressage, full of sporting drama and tension. But then what else could we have expected with such a high quality of riding and horses at these Championships”, says Ronan Murphy, FEI Director Dressage, Para-Dressage and Vaulting.
The championship in Riesenbeck set an example of inclusivity and accessibility. Every aspect of the event was designed to be barrier-free, with short and convenient pathways. The stables provided ample ventilation, allowing horses to observe the activities through their stall windows.
The interactions between Para Dressage and Dressage served as valuable learning experiences for understanding equestrian disciplines for people with disabilities. Rihards Snikus, a Latvian Para Dressage rider, stands out as an example of success in this discipline. His popularity, both as an athlete and a DJ, highlights the potential for promoting Para Dressage.
Daria Tikhomirova, Chef d’equipe of Para Dressage Latvia, emphasised the importance of raising awareness about Para Dressage and showcasing the personalities of athletes beyond their disabilities.
Speaking about her rider Rihards Snikus: “His last party was in a big club in the capital of Latvia, Riga, with quite some people. So through this passion of DJing, a lot of people now know who Rihards is. Actually, we need the same for our sport, for Para Dressage. Because, when you get popular and more people know you, they get to know the personality of the person. They see who the person really is and not what only his handicap is. So, a wish would be to make Para Dressage more popular overall.”
Ronan Murphy lauded the organisers for their efforts to create an inclusive environment at the venue, making it a model for future equestrian events and promoting a unique level of inclusivity;
“We’ve received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from athletes, the media and spectators about the quality of the facilities on offer here in Riesenbeck. And special kudos must go the Organisers for ensuring a level of accessibility around the venue which has allowed for a unique level of inclusivity, which we hope will be a blueprint for other equestrian events in the future.”
Mette Ubbesen, Equipechef Para Dressage Sweden about the qualification for the Paralympics 2024: “I’m so excited. I think the riders have been doing a great job here. For the last ten months I’ve been with them. They’re just getting better and better and better! Our plan was to get to the Paralympics, but we didn’t quite believe in it. But now we succeeded!”
Sara Morganti, ITA, Grade I, European Champion Para Dressage Freestyle about the journey for her from the first to the last day in Riesenbeck:
“It was wonderful, because on the first day I didn’t even know if I would have qualified for the final. And on the second day, the competition went very very well, so I got my access to the final. And so today it was a new start and I had to forget the first day and try to do my best here. Today this is my Personal Best!”
Michael Murphy, IRL, Grade I about how the venue was for him:
“It’s a lovely arena, it’s very nice to ride in there. (…) The show has been amazing. It’s always nice to come to a European Championship, especially when it’s run like this.”
Charlotte Cundall, GBR, Grade V about the facilities in Riesenbeck:
„It’s absolutely phenomenal, there’s nothing that horse or human could want any more. The stables are great and airy and really cool, it’s really warm out here, but the stables are really cool, the wash up facilities, it’s brilliant!”
FEI Para Dressage European Championship - Freestyle Grade III
FEI Para Dressage European Championship - Freestyle Grade II
FEI Para Dressage European Championship - Freestyle Grade I
FEI Para Dressage European Championship - Freestyle Grade V
FEI Para Dressage European Championship - Freestyle Grade IV
September 9. 2023