HORSES FOR THE PARALYMPICS: Visiting Volker Eubel’s riding stable for dressage riding

It’s Saturday. The hours before noon at Volker Eubel’s riding stable for dressage riding in Cologne. Horses in the main hall are in full motion. Among them: Volker Eubel.

Once a successful equestrian himself, multiple German junior champion, Eubel now is a rather even more successful coach. Head coach of the Singapore dressage riding national team of parasports.

One of the three best equestrians is on location this morning. Laurentia Tan. She and her horse Fürst Sherlock almost won a medal at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. “Fürst Sherlock was the youngest of all starters. He and Tan were lacking o,2 percent in the final ranking,” Eubel says. And so the next challenge is already adressed: the 2018 World Games in North Carolina.

It’s the next big tournament after the Paralympics,” says Jannie Tan, mother of 35 year old Laurentia. For her daughter riding is essential in many ways. Not only in terms of being successful, it also improved her health. Her therapist did recommend it to her daughter, Jannie Tan says.

As Volker Eubel was starting as the Singapore national coach, disabled people weren’t even officially existing in the country, he remembers. A lot has changed since then. “Singapore did open up,” says Eubel. Now four official teams are installed. Riding is officially taught in schools. But all horses are imported from Europe, as the coach explains.

At his riding stable in Cologne 30 horses live. Not only horses who are trained for tournaments. But all of them get a special treatment. “We want to create a wellbeing for them all,” says Volker Eubel. A team of qualified grooms helps him. Feeds the horses with special cereals and oat, and creates much variety for them. From free time on the field or paddock to trainings in the hall.

Even a physiotherapist works for Eubel, treats horses if needed with acupuncture. This morning one of the horses in the hall needs treatment. Volker Eubel talks to the physiotherapist while one of the qualified grooms leads the horse around.

Zafiro is rather well this morning. The half Spanish gray horse receives an apple from his owner and rider Andrea Landy-Silling. Nine years ago she bought the now 13 year old horse. A good idea. Zafiro became a 30 times Grand Prix-winner in the meantime. He also is the best horse in his breed worldwide. And he likes to travel, as Landy-Silling says.

Every rider is nothing without his horse,” Volker Eubel explains. So for him the ongoing challenge is to make both of them happy. “Both of them have their own character,” says the coach. “It’s a question of experience to see if a horse and a rider fit together.

Saying it and then quickly looking through the large windows of the casino into the riding hall. There, horses are still in motion. “In general warm-blooded horses are very decent for dressage riding,” Eubel says. He must know that: After more than twenty years of professional work…

(reported by Lars Göllnitz)