Australia’s para-equestrians and their horses have been forced to battle the stifling Rio de Janeiro heat, as they competed in the Team and Individual Championship Tests at the Equestrian Centre on day six of the Paralympic Games.
43 year old Katie Umback, who has multiple sclerosis, says she was worried she would faint as she performed her Individual Championship Test Grade Three aboard her horse Marquis, in temperatures in the mid-30s.
“I struggle with heat with my disease, so it was a really, really big challenge before I started. But I managed to do everything that I set out to do. My horse responded in the way I wanted him to respond. I just gave it everything I had.”
Umback of Bega, New South Wales, scored 67.902%, handing her 12th place out of 16 competitors.
Teammate Sharon Jarvis and her horse Ceasy benefited from a late afternoon start, scoring 68.585% to finish in 9th spot.
“The test had too much tension to get a really good score, but it was far better than the other day, and I’m really happy.”
Earlier in the day, Victorian Emma Booth finished 13th out of 14 competitors in the Team Test Grade Two.
The 25 year old and her horse Zidane scored 65.765%, the lowest score of the four Australian competitors.
Booth had qualified for Rio with a score above 73%, but she says she wasn’t too disappointed.
“This was our first time in such a big arena, me and Zidane, so it always feels a little bit different out there than it does at home, but he tried really hard. He was a little bit sensitive, and you know a little bit looking at the crowd, but I’m really happy with it,” Booth said.
“There were good parts and horses are a little bit unpredictable. He just had a few little trips so that just threw us a little bit.”
Booth, who became a paraplegic in a 2013 car crash, is competing at her first Paralympic Games.
“I think it still hasn’t sunk in yet that we’re actually here and we’ve done it. One down and one to go, so it’s exciting. Hopefully next time we’ll be a bit more relaxed.”
The team score is determined by adding together the best three individual aggregates across the Team and Individual Championship Tests.