“I can’t dance on my feet but I can do ballet with my horse,” says Angelika Trabert of Germany.
Who is Angelika Trabert? A member of the German team to compete in Hartpury next week? Yes. The participant in three Paralympics, three World and one European Championships? That as well. The winner of eight silver and one gold medals? Indeed. But she is so much more than that.
A qualified anaesthetist practicing in a university hospital in Germany, Angelika was born without legs and with three fingers missing from her right hand. But that, obviously, did not mean she couldn’t be a rider. When at age six she sat on a horse for the first time, the seed was planted. In 1985, as an exchange student to the United States, she met another young girl who had lost a leg to cancer. She rode her horses without prosthesis and encouraged Angelika to try the same. The newly discovered feeling was a revelation, and from that moment on, Angelika rode without leg aids on. When she returned home, she resumed riding western style, as it provided more support. A few years later, she got her first custom made dressage saddle.
From then on, there was no stop on the road to success. In 1990, she passed the German Equestrian Federation tests, and obtained a national teaching license. In 2001, she got her Trainer A license and is now training young disabled riders.
Since 1991, Angelika has been an avid international competitor. At the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, Angelika was elected athlete's representative on the board of the International Paralympic Equestrian Committee (IPEC); she was re-elected in 2000 in Sydney.
"Searching a suitable horse was difficult", she says and she only found one over a year after being "on the road" for over ten years with her Trakehner gelding. "Walmorel" is a 11 year old Hannovarian mare, who learned so quickly that they even managed to take part in the Paralympics in Athens 2004, where for the first time they were allowed to ride on their own horses.
It appears that the very odds we perceive are well and truly overcome when the outlook and the mindset take the lead…