Christiansen rides to further glory
October 01, 2009
Ascot paralympian Sophie Christiansen added another title to her haul when she won the KBIS British Equestrian Para Dressage Grade Ia title at the National Dressage Championships 2009.
Christiansen won riding The Berkeley Group’s horse, Rivaldo of Berkeley, with a score of 74.33 per cent last month in Warwickshire.
This victory follows on from her success at the European Championships in Norway where Team GB won the Para Equestrian Team Gold.
Sophie was understandably delighted with her win.
“I’m so happy with him as he didn’t put a foot wrong, not even in the prize giving,” said Sophie.
“We felt that this year’s European Championships was too soon for him, but this result has proved that he can now cope with everything.
“He’s only 11 years old and just gets better and better.
“He’s a great prospect for the World Equestrian Games next year and is likely to cope better with the journey than my other ride Lambrusco who’s a little older now.
“I’d like to thank Sarah and Tony Pidgley, the owners of ‘Robin’ for their support.”
Sophie has cerebral palsy, which affects all her muscles including her speech.
She started riding aged six when she went on a school trip to her local RDA centre, South Bucks and is one of the few grade I riders who is not wheelchair-bound.
She uses an electric scooter to get about as she cannot walk long distances.
She has, however, achieved a remarkable number of titles, including the 2003 Riding for the Disabled (RDA) national champion grade I, individual bronze in grade I at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, the 2004 BBC London Disabled Athlete of the Year, 2005 European Para Dressage team, individual and freestyle grade I champion, as well as individual freestyle gold and individual bronze (Ia) at the World Championships.
She was also part of the gold medal winning team in addition to taking the individual gold at Grade Ia Freestyle and individual silver, Ia, at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
“I wanted a challenge and I had the choice to go to the RDA or do PE at school.
“I love being on a horse because the horse moves for me and I feel free,” she said.
It was Sophie’s trainer Clive Milkins who spotted her talent and inspired her to compete, and Sophie has to work hard with physiotherapists to strengthen her muscles to help her riding.
“Trying to sit up straight on a horse is a challenge for me and I have to do special exercises for my core stability,” she added.