Canadian Paralympian Bert Sheffield shares her exciting news ahead of the World Championships in Denmark, for Bomber Bits
May 18, 2022

Pic by Yadel Möhler Photography

Canadian Paralympian and Bombers ambassador Bert Sheffield has enjoyed an amazing first half of 2022, having rocketed to fifth place in FEI World rankings with her ride Fairuza. Bert has recently been in Europe training and competing ahead of the run up to the World Championships in Denmark in August, having recently secured the required score for possible Canadian team selection at Waregem CPEDI3*.

This year, Bert and ‘Wonky’ have contested multiple CPEDI3* World Championship qualifiers at different European locations, including their first, Keysoe in the UK, when the pair got off to a flying start with two wins and a second place; even though Bert says Wonky was ‘rather excited to be partying again’!

“We enjoyed a very successful trip to Europe, securing 11 World Championships selection criteria scores; even though we only needed six!” Bert muses. “The tour finished with us winning two out of our three classes at Mannheim CPEDI3*; it was very special to win at this wonderful show.”

Pic by Equestrian Canada Équestre

“Although we’re back on British turf now, we had been staying at Lerchenhof, Dessurstall Volker Eubel in Cologne for training,” Bert continues.

“This is such an incredible opportunity for us, and one borne out of the earlier Covid situation.”

“Before the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021, there was a seven day horse export quarantine requirement where most of the horses were supervised at Germany’s Aachen showground,” Bert continues.

“When we were doing the planning stages, Germany had closed its borders to travellers from UK, where I’m usually based. Our contingency was to do 14 days in the Netherlands, so we could travel into Germany for the export quarantine. Then the Netherlands closed itself to the UK, but Germany opened just before we left!” Bert recalls. “It was  utter chaos, and a lot of head scratching occurred as you can imagine.”

Bert knew trainer Volker Eubel by sight, as he runs the Singaporean Para dressage team, but didn’t know him well. “With great trepidation, after phoning around many other German dressage people that we know to help me find a training base, we got in touch with him. And he said “Yes! I can help you,” Bert recalls. “So I got the opportunity to stay and train a little bit there before Tokyo 2021. I knew he and his partner Diana were beautiful riders, but then came the amazing revelation that he had trained for 12 years as a young man with my childhood idol, Dr Reiner Klimke,” Bert says.

Naturally, having had such a good experience there before when she was planning her Spring schedule in Europe, Volker was Bert and her team’s first choice for training and board between the recent competitions. “I sometimes wonder who is watching over me as I have such amazing opportunities in my life, especially in such difficult circumstances as Covid,” she muses. For Bert and Wonky, it is now full steam ahead towards the World Championships in Denmark, August 9-14. Bert is planning to go back out to Europe training for July, with Wonky currently enjoying the Bombers ported barrel mouthpiece with an eggbutt cheek (above left), as “It helps to quieten an over-active, sensitive tongue, while still allowing the rider a finessed communication,” as Bert explains. We wish her all the best for her training and competition experiences!

Bert Sheffield’s top training tip – establishing rhythm

Rhythm is the first principle of the scales of training; one of the first fundamentals of all training. It has many elements to it; there are the correct harmonious footfalls for the gait you are in (correct sequence and clear moment of suspension in trot and canter); the fluent repetition of that pattern; and the speed of that repetition, e.g. the tempo, to consider. The horse needs to be in balance, in front of the leg without rushing, and fairly relaxed to achieve good rhythm.

A great way to improve your rhythm is to ride to music that fits your horse’s ideal tempo. Rising trot to the beat is a brilliant exercise. Often the best music to use is a touch slower that what the rider feels is correct, so the horse has time for the legs to swing through in each step. My favourite trot music (I may be showing my age here!) is Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus, as it holds me back and helps develop a beautiful cadence swinging gait.

Visit Bert’s FB page.