The First Disabled Woman Equestrian Medalist in the World – Lis Hartel

Have you ever heard about equestrianism and on how they compete for this type of sporting event? Well, this type of competition is also popular as Horseback Riding or Horse Riding in its simplest term. It actually deals about those people or equestrians who are capable of riding, driving and commanding their horses to follow what they need to do.

They say that there is a unique purpose on why the horse follows the instructions.

When competing for an equestrian activity or event, it proves on how human beings can train the horses effectively for the following competitions:

  1. Endurance riding
  2. Dressage
  3. Reining
  4. Polo
  5. Racing
  6. Driving
  7. Show Jumping
  8. Vaulting and more

Of course, there are many different activities on how to discover the skills of a particular horse and developed with the help of an expert trainer and rider.

If we talk about the first disabled woman equestrian medalist in the world, history revealed that her name is Lis Hartel and a known equestrian from the beautiful country of Denmark. According to the published information online about her, Else Holst (her mother) coached her for the first time and later on handled by Gunnar Andersen (an expert horseman) when she began competing in the national levels.

According to the information shared through, Lis Hartel is also the first woman equestrian with Olympic level skills and won a medal, despite her physical disability. She became part of the Olympic Equestrian Team of her country and with the kind of perseverance she showed, many horse enthusiasts and disabled people look at her as a real hero.

This native of Hellerup in Denmark is a typical horse enthusiast and her favorite equestrian competition is Dressage at her young age. Of course, she is also popular in other competitions such as Show Jumping. Her tragic situation in life that affected her seriously is when she is 23 years old. That time, she is already married and diagnosed with Polio (a kind of health conditions that can disable a person).

Hartel is likewise pregnant when she learned about her Polio and because this is a serious ailment that can damage the mobility of a person, her doctor told her that it would be impossible that the 23-year-old popular Danish equestrian can ride a horse and compete again.

During that time, she cannot move her knees and have weak arms and hands.

Because of her determination and strength to overcome her disability, Hartel made the statement of her doctors as a symbol of challenge to prove them wrong. She never gave up and began training harder, until she noticed that she can already sit in the saddle of a horse. The first woman equestrian medalist with disability achieved her goal in fighting her condition and went back to ride her horse.

In 1974, she competed for the Scandinavian Riding Championships and won a silver medal, despite her disability. However, they did not reveal anything about her polio. Unfortunately, they prevented her from competing for the Olympics in 1948 because there are no women riders that time and not because she is a disabled person.

This courageous woman from Denmark got an opportunity to compete for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and won a silver medal for finishing as second place. To show her remarkable equestrian skills, she even defeated some of her male equestrian rivals that year.

Her dream to become a champion equestrian did not stop because in the 1956 Stockholm Olympics, she again competed and finished as a silver medalist to improve her achievements. In an effort to encourage people with disability to ride a horse, she established the Therapeutic Riding Center and became the first organization in Europe.

Even before she died in 2009, the 87-year-old Danish equestrian champion did not stop in sharing her passion and in helping other people on how to overcome their disabilities.


Credit images: Getty Images

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