Natasha Baker reveals unspoken language as secret to her success in para-equestrian

Para-equestrian star Natasha Baker revealed an unspoken language with her mother is the secret behind her stunning success in the saddle.

Baker, 34, has done all there is to do in her sport, amassing an incredible medal haul of six golds and two silvers in her three Paralympic appearances since London 2012.

A love for horses was instilled into Baker early on, having been raised surrounded by horses on her family farm.

Her mother, who rode horses competitively, was pivotal in honing her early passion.

“It’s all my mum’s fault,” said Baker, who was born in Hammersmith. “My mum used to ride very competitively in pretty much every sport apart from dressage, funnily enough, but showing and eventing were her main hobbies and passions.

“Growing up on the farm, being surrounded by horses, I think it was bred into me really, and I just wanted to be out with the horses all of the time.

“Mum and I have a bit of an unspoken language in that we can just look at each other and know what each other are thinking,” she added. “She knows the horses as well as I do, she knows them inside out.

“Travelling away, she’s more than just my groom that looks after the horses. She’s my psychologist as well, she looks after me and she helps me so much.

“She really is such a massive part of my team, and when my trainer’s not around, she’s my eyes on the ground telling me if I need to do something better or telling me when I’ve done something well. Apart from the horse, she’s the biggest part of my team.”

Baker’s journey into the equestrian world also came in the form of therapy when she was left without feeling in her legs aged 14 months after contracting transverse myelitis – a neurological virus that inflamed her spine and damaged her nerve endings.

It proved the perfect fit for the Buckinghamshire equestrian, with her time around horses the perfect outlet growing up.

“I feel incredibly lucky that I don’t know any different,” Baker said. “I don’t know what it’s like to be able bodied.

“Riding really gave me something especially when I was going through school, I could go, and ride and it was something that I was good at. All of the other kids would be off to play football, rugby or whatever, and I always had riding.

“Kids in school were always really respectful of my hobby, and in the yearbook, their ‘most likely to be an Olympian’ was my name, which is really cool. They could see that I was really passionate about it.

“Riding gives me a sense of freedom because I can’t get around on my legs particularly well when I’m on the ground, but on a horse, I can do things that a lot of able-bodied people can’t do, which is pretty cool.”

Now preparing for her fourth Games – she has hailed the support of Agria, one of the world’s leading animal insurers, who help fund her pursuit of success in the sport.

“It’s crucial,” she said. “Our sport is fairly expensive, we’re keeping animals, so to have that additional funding is amazing.

“On top of that, the love that they have for horses speaks volumes. There’s plenty of insurance companies out there that insure horses, but they are so unique because they have lifetime insurance for the horses.

“It really shows that they care about the horse first and foremost, and of course that is my main priority.”

Agria, the UK’s only lifetime equine insurance, has been enriching lives with animals since 1890.

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