Gold-medal treble for disabled dressage-rider

Sophie Wells at European Championships 2013
Sophie Wells at European Championships 2013

A disabled horsewoman, based at stables in Papplewick, has completed a remarkable treble hat-trick of gold medals.

For the third European Para-Dressage Championships in a row, Sophie Wells (23) has scooped three golds.

Sophie (pictured) lives in Lincolnshire, but her coach is 45-year-old Angela Weiss, who runs Papplewick Equestrian Centre and Riding School from her home on Mansfield Road, Papplewick. Sophie was born with amniotic band syndrome, which means she has no feeling or movement in her feet and has lost several fingers.

She took up riding at the age of eight and began competing in dressage four years later. Renowned coach and ex-event rider Angela began training her after the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Sophie’s first trio of golds came on her horse, Pinocchio, at the European Championships in Norway in 2009. The latest triumphs, in Belgium two years ago and in Norway last week, were achieved on a different horse, ten-year-old Valerius, who was bought six years ago and specifically trained to be a top dressage competitor

Sophie, who was awarded the OBE earlier this year for services to equestrianism, also landed two silver medals and a team gold on Pinocchio at the Paralympic Games in London last year.

Says Angela: “London was quite an experience -- a fantastic atmosphere. I am delighted by Sophie’s success.”