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Horses from Ribble Valley equestrian set for Olympic Games
HORSES from a Ribble Valley equestrian yard are set to be used by competitors in the Olympic Games.
Panama Sports Horses UK, in Gisburn, is one of the stables to have trained horses for the Modern Pentathlon event at London 2012.
Competitors take part in five sports, including show jumping, in which they are given 20 minutes to practice riding a horse they have never been on, before tackling a course with jumps of 1m 20cm.
Along with Pentathlon GB organisers, the yard’s owner Carol Richardson, 49, has spent the past two-and-a half years selecting and preparing the horses for the showcase event.
Situated on the Pennine Bridleway, the yard, in Gisburn Park Estate, was also the training ground for the horses used in the 1952 Helsinki Games.
The stables offer equine and livery services, with hydrotherapy facilities and 70 acres of grazing and parkland.
Also a successful showjumper and coach, Carol, who has been riding since she was 11, has won several medals in international competitions in Italy, Ireland and South Africa among others.
She opened Panama Horses 19 years ago at the site, which is leased from the Gisburn Park Estate.
The stables are named after the hat her husband Nick was wearing while bidding for a horse 30 years ago.
Carol, who is originally from Ulverston, Cumbria, said: “I am from a totally non-horsey family, but I rode a friend’s horse from ballet school when I was 11 and just fell in love with it.
“It is a great achievement to get horses to the Olympics because they have tried 1,000 horses and we have got nine of the 40 to have been selected.
“The horses have to be so honest and keep going, even with a rider they are not used to.
“It is an honour to be able to make such a contribution for the 2012 Olympics.”
The Modern Pentathalon involves competitors pistol shooting, fencing, a 200 metre freestyle swim and a 3km cross-country run as well as the show jumping.
Samantha Murray, from Clitheroe, has been selected for Team GB in the event and both Mhairi Spence and Nick Woodbridge are being tipped as British medal hopefuls.