Double Bronze and Silver Freestyle Medalist at Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games — Danish Teenager Stinna Tange Kaastrup Chats About Her Start, Her Pony & Their Travels.
Sixteen-year-old Stinna, who competes in grade 1b para-dressage, aboard her New Forest Pony, Labbenhus Snoevs, wowed the spectators and impressed the judges with three precise, polished performances. Born without legs, Stinna rides in a soft, treeless saddle for a closer feel and carries two whips as compensatory aids. The young rider’s composure and ideal partnership with her mount, Snoevs, left no doubt they were having some serious fun.
When did your horse interest start?
It started when I was 7, a friend took me to a riding club and I was sold!
First I didn’t ride alone, someone was holding the horse and there was a rider behind (mostly because they were hysterical at the riding club and were afraid that I would fall off!) and after a couple of times riding like that, the back rider didn’t even hold me any more, so my mom convinced them that I should try riding by my self, so I did!
Where did you first ride – where do ride now?
I rode at a local pony club, so too speak. Today, I ride at a riding center 20 minutes from my home in Odense, Denmark.
Who is your trainer/coach?
My trainer’s name is Lotte Straarup. And she is the best! I have a lot of respect for her because she’s so good. I don’t ever make any decisions about competitions, shows or really everything that involves horses with out have talking it through with her first. We have the best cooperation!
Has your coach worked with para-riders before you?
Yes she has, but some years ago.
What was your focus in training for WEG?
My walk! We have always been very good in the trot but but we had to work a lot on the walk. And of course the half passes, it has been difficult to learn how to do those. But they were exactly as they should be at WEG, so I was very pleased.
What about dressage interests you?
I love the bond between a rider and it’s horse. I love the feeling of becoming one with your horse, and both doing everything in your power to make the best result! I think it’s the coolest and most satisfying feeling the world.
What is your horse’s personality? His favorite treats?
He has the greatest personality! He’s SO funny! He likes every treat as long as it is edible! He really connects to his people and you don’t doubt for a second that he loves you. He has a will of his own that’s for sure! And well, he loves taking things in his mouth and swing them around and around and around!! But most important of all he is really clever! He never does any stupid things and he’s the most gentle soul. Never bites or kicks, and he loves to cuddle.
Did he travel well for such a long distance?
Yes he did! Very well. I was so afraid how he would react! It was the first time he was on a plane, but he was such a cool boy and didn’t freak out. Well, at least, not on the airplane…but on the truck from the airport, he ran off with 4 grown men!! The men had just put Annika from the Danish team’s stallion on the truck, and wasn’t happy that a New Forest pony ran away! One of the men screamed, “It’s only a pony!!” and another man screamed back “Yes, but a bloody strong one!!”
How long have you been competing?
On Snoevs for 2½ year. But I have always been competing, but when was younger I was only against non-disabled people. Today I do both.
Are there many opportunities for you to compete close to home?
Yes, there is. We are very lucky at that point in DK!
So you compete with able-bodied riders as well as para?
Yes, I do.
Did you ride many horses before you found Snoevs?
I have had 2 horses before him. And I tried a lot before I found my “soulmate.”
Where did you get him? Does his name translate into English?
From a girl who had had him for 3-4 years and she was really sad that she had to sell him! (she couldn’t ride pony any longer). No, it doesn’t it is the name of a funny Danish cartoon character.
Which riders do like to watch/admire?
The Danish rider Princess Nathalie zu Sayn Wittgenstein, and of course, my trainer Lotte.
What do like about them?
Nathalie makes it look so easy when she rides, and very beautiful.
Do any family members also ride?
No, actually I am the only one.
Other interests besides riding?
What is your favorite school subject?
Future goals, riding or life?
My future goal is the Para Olympics in London 2012
What did you enjoy about your experience in Kentucky?
Everything, it was just amazing
What does your life with horses mean to you?
It means a lot! it gives me so much joy!