FEI Awards:
Against All Odds

26 September 2017

You could not find four people more resilient, inspiring or deserving of this award. 

Each with their own individual story to tell, all of whom have overcome great adversity and gone on not only to achieve personal successes but also to inspire people worldwide...

 

Felicia Grimmenhag (SWE) // ATHLETE

The embodiment of resilience, 23 year old Felicia suffered an accident aged 17 while driving her moped. Her heart stopped for 15 minutes and she was clinically dead. Despite losing a lot of blood and both her legs, 10 weeks after the accident she was up on a horse again.

Three years ago after watching the Swedish Para Equestrian Team she set her sights fully on competitive riding again, starting with both dressage & western riding. Now Felicia is competing at an international level in Para-Dressage, as a member of the Swedish team that inspired her back into riding. 

During the Longines FEI European Championships in her home country. Felicia and her horse Tarot E scored a personal best in every competition undeterred by only having Tarot E for 7 months before their Championship debut and it only being their 5th competition together. A feat made even more incredible by the fact Felicia’s very first international competition was in late April this year. 

“To be nominated for such a prestigious award is an incredible, surreal feeling.  I would not be here without Tarot E, the crew around me and all the fantastic people I have met and who have helped me along the way.”

 

 

Manuel Franke Bertolotto (CHI) // ATHLETE

Born with Down syndrome, 19 year old Manuel began riding at the age of six with his father. Unfortunately he came up against trainers unwilling to take him on because of his disability. This was the catalyst for his incredible determination to succeed in Jumping. In 2015 he took part in his first competition and came 1st, competing against riders without any disability. 

As Down syndrome is not considered within the parameters of para-equestrian, Manuel’s success is measured in equestrian competitions against riders who have no physical, motor or mental impairments. Since that first jumping competition in 2015, he has successfully participated in a number of official competitions always placing very well. 

 

 

Manuel is the only rider in Chile with Down syndrome competing at official Equestrian events. He actively encourages children with Down syndrome to follow his example, persevere and pursue their dreams. 

Much loved in Chile, Manuel was recognised by the national ‘La tercera’ magazine as a sports hero bringing equestrian sports to a new audience. He is a great role model for overcoming obstacles and challenging social barriers.

 

Click HERE to vote for Manuel

 

Eddo Hoekstra (NED) // COACH, TRAINER, ATHLETE

Eddo suffered a stroke- like occurrence 5 years ago losing all control of the left side of his body.  Thankfully his speech and sight were not affected for very long.  Two years passed and after months of therapy he found the will power and slowly began to teach & ride again.  Whilst his left side is still greatly affected he is still able to drive and travel to teach.  

Whether teaching beginners or advanced riders he makes everyone feel like they are worth his time and effort.  He is humble in his approach, constantly inspiring his pupils of all levels.

 

 

Eddo whole heartedly considers the feelings of the horse and asks his pupils to see it from the horse’s point of view.  A phenomenal instructor who makes his pupils excited for each lesson - an outstanding horseman.

‘Eddo says we must always see things from our horses’ point of view. The horse is so generous with us and if we are polite about our requests, the horse will feel good about what we are asking him to do.’- Nominator

 

Click HERE to vote for Eddo

 

To win would leave me without words

Emma Booth (AUS) // ATHLETE

In April 2013, aged 21 Emma Booth was returning from an International CIC event when a truck jack knifed into her car and float instantly killing both horses and leaving Emma paralysed.  Her injuries were extensive and included a bleed on the brain, punctured lung, a shattered spine and a fractured skull, sternum, collarbone and ankle.  Spurred on by her love of horses she looked up Para-Equestrianism whilst still in hospital. Six months after the accident, with life-altering injuries, she was back on a horse.  

Fiercely determined & unbelievably resilient her daily struggles do not impede on her decision to ride.  Emma has gone on to represent Australia in Grade II Para Equestrian in 2014 & 2015.  2016 saw her qualify for the Rio Paralympic Games - exactly 3 years after her accident - where she finished 5th, 1% out of the medals. 

Inspiring people outwith the Equestrian community, Emma gives talks to schools, community groups and big corporate organisations about dealing with adversity.  

“To be nominated shows what can be achieved with a little bit of a dream, some determination and loving networks of support around you. I'm incredibly proud to be nominated, but to win would leave me without words. I could only have ever dreamed to be lucky enough to represent my country doing what I love, and to win an FEI award would just completely be the cherry on top of what has been an amazing journey after my accident in 2013."

Emma’s eyes are firmly fixed on the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 & Tokyo 2020.

 

Click HERE to vote for Emma

 

 

Text by Hannah Eccles

Photography by FEI/Liz Gregg