COINS Foundation’s Erin Orford recently went to Gothenburg in Sweden to compete in the FEI Para Dressage European Championships. Still only 28, Erin first sat on a horse aged 2 and has been competing at Senior International level since 2006.

There are 5 grades of competition (based on disability) but this year, for the first time, each country was limited to just 4 riders per Nation as opposed to the 5 spaces they’ve previously been allowed. Great Britain has strength in all grades and has been unbeaten in the team event since it was first introduced in Atlanta in 1996, making it highly competitive to even make the team. Having narrowly missed out on team selection several times (Erin was shortlisted for the London 2012 Paralympics as well as being named non-travelling reserve for the World Equestrian Games 2014 and the Rio Paralympics 2016) she received some surprising news when she was called up at the last second to travel to Sweden to make her Championship debut.

As reserve I didn’t expect to be needed but one of the horses wasn’t fit to travel so I was asked to step up. It’s devastating for the rider who missed out but I was determined to make the most of an opportunity that I’d been waiting so long for.

Erin Orford
Images courtesy of BEF / Jon Stroud Media

Polished performances meant Erin came home with team gold and an individual bronze medal, finishing an agonising 4th on the last day to narrowly miss out on a third medal.

I’m so proud (and relieved) to have come back with a gold and bronze medal from my first major championships. There was a lot of pressure to deliver and I’m really glad we were able to perform, for everyone who has supported me over the years I want to say a huge thank you for making this possible.

Erin Orford

An outstanding achievement, Erin is already looking to the future, where she has her sights set on Gold at the Tokyo Paralympics, but until then she has the World Championships and another Europeans to work towards.

Well done Erin!