Equestrianism: Dressage equality for disabled

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JO JACKSON, who won three gold medals at the 1996 Paralympic Games, is delighted to have the chance of competing in September's National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh, writes Genevieve Murphy.

The opportunity comes through a new competition in which British Dressage Ltd (now independent of its former parent, The British Horse Society) has linked up with the Riding for the Disabled Association. Known as the Strongid P British Dressage RDA Championship, the contest will have five qualifying events leading up to the Stoneleigh final.

"It will be fantastic to be under the same umbrella as the top dressage riders," Jackson said yesterday, when she and fellow members of the Paralympic team celebrated the launch of the new contest.

Last year Jackson lost her one and only horse - "It was at 5.15 on 12 September, the time and date are etched on my memory" - when the gelding, Jake, died of a heart attack. Helped by the unflagging Desi Dillingham, chairman of British Dressage, she is now on the brink of acquiring both a new horse and a sponsor.

Jake was not insured, but it is intended that the new horse will be fully covered by the prospective sponsors from ACE Insurance. The company is planning to offer her a package which would include commission for each of their policies placed through British Equestrian Insurance Brokers. Another sponsor is expected to buy the horse.