DOHA – She was a trailblazer who became the first South African dressage rider to compete at an Olympic Games, and now Tanya Seymour is hoping to inspire a full dressage team to make it to the Olympics in Tokyo next year.
Seymour earned an individual dressage place for South Africa at the 2016 Rio Olympics after finishing fourth at an Olympic qualification event in Perl, Germany – the country in which she is currently based.
She finished in 56th place in Rio, but her achievement has spurred on a new generation of South African riders who are well placed to emulate her efforts of making it to the 2020 Olympics.
“Becoming the first South African dressage rider to make it to the Olympic Games was an honour, something that was very special to me.
“It is exciting to see how far our sport has come since. We have more riders competing internationally now, and quite a few who are right up there and close to qualifying for the Olympics,” Seymour said moments after competing in the exclusive invitation-only CHI Al Shaqab 2019 equestrian event in Doha.
Other promising South African riders making their mark internationally include Gretha Ferreira, who is also based in Germany and competing on the international Grand Prix equestrian circuit, another well-established German-based rider Laurienne Dittmann and Nicola Moore, who is also based in Germany and is currently being trained by Seymour.
A team of three riders are needed to qualify for a team at the Olympics in the dressage discipline, an equestrian ‘art’ regarded as the highest expression of horse training, with its poetic steps and routines.
“It would be amazing going to the Tokyo Olympics as a rider and as a trainer, hopefully with Nicola. It would be really cool to have a team at Tokyo, and we are working really hard to make that happen.
“We need two top qualifying scores, and we have enough time to make that happen, so I am very optimistic,” said Seymour.
Covering something completely different today, the opulence of Day 1 of Qatar Foundation’s #CHIALSHAQAB19 equestrian event at the magnificent @AlShaqab facility in Doha. An occasion fit for a king, or an Emir. pic.twitter.com/kF2ajE42Uj
— Jermaine Craig (@JermaineCraig07) March 7, 2019
For Seymour and her dark chestnut stallion, Ramoneur 6, the imposing Al Shaqab equestrian arena was a bit intimidating as she struggled with her intricate dressage routine in the CDI5 Grand Prix event on Friday.
“We’ve competed at the world championships in front of thousands of people, but things didn’t go quite as planned out there today. It’s the second time we’ve been to Al Shaqab. The venue is amazing and the facilities are world-class.
“Riding here is as big as riding at any major European event or even at an Olympics. The arena is simply unreal, it’s a great experience, which was a bit intimidating for my horse today,” said Seymour.
Al Shaqab is a member of the Qatar Foundation and is a world-class 250-acre equestrian facility spearheaded by the Qatari royal family.
The prestigious CHI Al Shiqab is one of only five CHI (Concours Hippique International – International Equestrian Competition) events worldwide, and the first and only equestrian event of its kind in the Middle East, for which invitations are coveted and reserved for only the world’s leading horses and riders.