Top 5 tips to get started in Para equestrian from rising star Jorgensen

Tobias Thorning Jorgensen, who won two gold medals at Tokyo 2020, encourages people to embrace the partnership with their horse and become a "nerd for the sport" 02 Sep 2022
A male athlete riding a horse raises his left hand. He is accompanied by a woman wearing a red and white face mask.
The 22-year-old athlete has been a rising star in the sport since making his major international debut in 2017.
ⒸAlex Pantling/ Getty Images

Tobias Thorning Jorgensen made a huge impression in his Paralympic debut at last year’s Tokyo 2020 Games, winning two gold medals in Para equestrian and cementing his status as the sport’s rising star.

The Danish athlete, who was born with a rare muscular condition, proved he was unstoppable once again when he captured the individual and freestyle titles in Grade III at the FEI Para Dressage World Championship, held in August 2022 on home soil.

Jorgensen says that having a strong partnership with the horse is the key to success in Para equestrian sport. @Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Riding has been a large part of Jorgensen's life since he was young. Now 22, the athlete said that he practically grew up with Denmark’s national team.

His parents bought him his first pony before he was born. The sport may even run in his blood as his mother, Line Thorning Jorgensen, also competed in Para equestrian at the Paralympic Games. 

At Tokyo 2020, Jorgensen rode his horse Jolene Hill to victory in the Dressage Grade III individual and freestyle events, beating five-time gold medallist Natasha Baker of Great Britain on both occasions.

"It feels great. But I also know they're such good riders and such great people that it's fantastic to be able to have the medals with them (on the podium)," Jorgensen said in Tokyo. "I don't really think about beating them. Of course, the medals means a lot to me, but just to be in the same place as them is big for me." 

Curious about joining the Para equestrian family? PARA SPORT spoke to the young star to find out his Top 5 tips for getting into the sport.

1.    Contact your local equestrian centre

If you’re very new to dressage in general, starting at an equestrian centre is a great way to get into the sport.

2.    Enjoy your horse and the partnership

This is the most important thing with dressage. If you don’t enjoy the everyday with your horse and the partnership, it’s doomed before you even start.

3.    Find a coach who understands you

To develop, you need help and you need the right help to understand your disability.

4.    Attend an open gathering with the national coach

A great way to get into the scene is to join an open gathering. The development of talent in Para dressage is a big focus in most nations, and that can really be seen in competitions.

5.    Be nerdy!

Dressage is a sport for nerds! Especially with a disability, you need to develop other ways of doing the “normal” stuff. This is also much easier when you have a great partnership with both your horse and your coach.