Sophie Wells MBE is a successful dressage rider and competes up to Grand Prix level in able bodied competitions, notably competing at the Young Rider European Dressage Championships in 2010, and in 2008 becoming the first para-equestrian dressage rider to win an able-bodied international competition, finishing first in Hickstead’s under-21 international class. Sophie also competes as a Para Dressage Grade IV rider, and her two top horses are Pinocchio and Valerius. At the recent World Equestrian Games, she netted a Team Gold for Britain, and two individual silver medals.
“I was seven when I first knew that was what I wanted to be involved with horses. I thought they were very majestic animals, and still do! Although the wet weather and the fact that horse riding is a very expensive sport can be galling, I love it. Higher prize money would definitely be helpful to both owners and riders, as it can be very difficult to keep going, but we don’t do it for the money, or to have money, do we?!
In terms of key things I have learned from my most influential equestrian mentors, I believe that when you are competing for a team, if you do the best for yourself, it will also be good enough for the team. Also, I have learnt to appreciate what you have in the moment, and to take each day as it comes – the low points make you appreciate the high points even more.
If I am asked which horse I would love to have the ride on, I would be torn between German rider Helen Langehanenberg’s ride Damon Hill, and Brit Charlotte Dujardin’s ride Valegro. Those two dressage horses both look like the love what they do, and are very willing and want to do the job; that makes a massive difference, and they are obviously very talented animals.
I do enjoy watching other successful sports horses; in my discipline of dressage, I believe that equine temperament, natural ability and a willingness to learn are key. It’s much better to have a horse that is willing and wants to do it, than one that is very talented, yet doesn’t have the temperament for it, as you can’t put that in – but you can do a lot with training!
The motto I live by is actually “S*** happens”! Life’s about ability not disability, and everything happens for a reason; you get out of life what you put in. This attitude keeps you grounded, and helps you deal with things that you can’t always explain – you can make your own path if you work hard enough. It’s got to be a real mix to enable you to deal with everything that is thrown at you, but to also make something of yourself.”
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