Earlier this year a celebrity was spotted at CHPA when she came to visit to show her support for our work. She follows us closely and will be doing her best to spread awareness for working cart horses.
Philippa Johnson became the first South African rider to win gold at a Paralympic Games when she claimed first place in the mixed dressage championship IV event at the 2008 Games in Beijing. After a very traumatic car accident in October of 1998 Philippa became disabled. She lost all her strength in her right arm and 60% of the strength in her right leg. After her accident she had to learn from the beginning and this time with a severe handicap. She learned to ride again, but it was very though. Within a year she was back in the competition ring. Philippa always says: “Don’t allow anyone to put limits on your dreams”. And she made her dreams come true. With the help of her South-African coach Katrine Puttick, who helped her during the whole process, it worked. Philippa started riding again. She became a successful international para-equestrian rider who competes at grade IV. In 2002 she came, with the South African team and of course with her coach Katrine, to Belgium for an international para-equestrian competition in Moorsele. During their stay Philippa met her horse Benedict. It was love at first site and she bought him and packed her bags and moved to Belgium. She came to Belgium for Benedict but also because riding dressage at top level is more developed in Europe. The couple found in Belgium their current trainer Chris Haazen. From 2003 on Philippa and Benedict prepared for the Paralympics in Athens. Her dream: “To place in the first five finalists of the Paralympics in Athens” came true in 2004. Philippa made the decision to stay in Europe to prepare for Hong Kong 2008 together with Chris. She and Benedict did together a fantastic job at the Olympics and won the first equestrian gold medal ever for South Africa. South African history is also made because this is the first time that South Africa has sent a complete equestrian team to the Paralympics. Visit www.philippajohnson.com.