French victory for equestrian ace Johnson | SASCOC - SASCOC

French victory for equestrian ace Johnson

Three-time Paralympian Philippa Johnson made good progress on both her horses in a recent dressage competition in France, writes Mark Etheridge.

Johnson, who won double gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, took Lord Louis and Verdi to their first international competition of the year, in Deauville, southern France.

“Both my boys did me proud,” said Johnson. “The weather was bitterly cold especially for the south of France, with a wind that went straight up Louis’ tail which made for some very interesting riding!

“In the Team Test Louis made a spectacular start, after the halt we have to track left and then ride a 10m circle H. As we got round the corner a gust of wind caught Louis who stopped and stood straight up on his hind legs and then continued! We came fifth with 67.78%! Verdi did a nice test with one or two spooks which dropped our score down to 66%.”

The second day was the Championships and both Johnson’s horses were in action again. “Louis did a super test ÔÇô┬áall our mistakes were rider error but we finished fourth with 69.83%. Verdi did the most super test, I was so pleased with him but the judges will never like him. He did do one big spook which unfortunately cost me two movements and finished us with a score of 63.92%.

“Louis made the cut for the main Freestyle and did a lovely test but our freestyle is still a bit simple compared to the others so we finished sixth with 70.65%. Verdi made the consolation Freestyle. We rode our new freestyle that Jeannette (my trainer’s wife) made for us. It worked brilliantly and we won the class with 69.6%”

“It’s nice to see that the judges are seeing the improvement in Louis and are wanting to give him the points. There were 12 nations at the competition with the Grade IV’s having the biggest class of 15 riders.”

Johnson and her horses are now back at their Belgium base where they will now start working towards their next big competition ÔÇô the CPEDI3* in Moorsele.