Thank you to Gold Circle for betting on us
Three months ago I left for Belgium to train and partake in 3 international Paralympic qualifiers. Due to the lengthy quarantine process associated with exporting horses from South Africa it is necessary for us to qualify on leased horses in Europe. Furthermore, if you aim to be on par with the international standard of para-dressage riders then Europe is the place to be. Not only is the the quality of riders in Europe on a whole different level but the quality of the para-dressage horses is also enough to make any able-bodied dressage rider go weak at the knees.
As one can imagine, the costs associated with competing internationally are astronomical and the weak Rand is not doing us any favors either. Firstly one has to take into account all the general costs of living overseas, not forgetting that certain bills back in South Africa still have to be paid every month. At the same time one also has to give up their South African job and source of income. Then comes all the horse related expenses, leasing, stabling, training, shoeing, therapy, show entries, show accommodation, transport to shows etc etc. Add all these costs up and the total is frightening. As a result many people only dream of competing at an international level but never get the chance to live their dream.
Sponsors are hard to come by, especially in the equestrian world where riders have to prove themselves as individuals before they get selected to represent a team. Heading over to Europe was a gamble as sponsorship had not yet been secured at the time of departure. While in Europe it was with great excitement that Dressage South Africa announced that Gold Circle Horseracing and Betting had agreed to come on board and sponsor 3 riders to participate in 3 Paralympic qualifiers. This was fantastic news and a big breakthrough for us!!
We are extremely grateful to Gold Circle who stepped out of the box and backed a discipline that is different from the one they normally support. They trusted us with their brand and at the same time gave us an opportunity to prove ourselves. They did not just sponsor 3 riders, but rather 6 athletes. Our dedicated horses too need equipment, nutrition, physio therapy, daily care and training to keep them in peak form. These horses on their own are recognized as top class athletes. This sponsorship has done a great deal for para-dressage in South Africa by getting our riders out onto the international circuit. It has helped us to inspire other disabled children throughout South Africa and to show them that a disability should not be an impediment in life. In addition it has created awareness on the benefits of horse riding for people with disabilities and how it can improve their lives.