Beatrice De Lavalette: Triumph Amidst Tragedy

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“My accident changed my life, but it never really stopped me.”

In the world of equestrian sports, few stories are as inspiring and remarkable as that of Beatrice De Lavalette. Her journey through the highs and lows of life is a striking reflection of the indomitable human spirit.
Beatrice De Lavalette‘s introduction to equestrian sports is a unique one, woven into the very fabric of her being. Born into a family where horses were a way of life, Beatrice practically grew up in the saddle. As she fondly recalls, “I went to my first rodeo when I was two weeks old. My mother rode, my father rode, and horses were always a part of our daily existence.”

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Beatrice De Lavalette during an Horseball match

However, in 2016, Beatrice’s life was forever altered by the shocking and tragic events of the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

The physical injuries were extensive and unimaginably painful. But there was one constant that guided her through the darkest hours: her unbreakable spirit.

As we understand from his words, “My accident changed my life, but it never really stopped me. Riding my horse really saved my life. She was the encouragement to get back on my feet, both in my chair.”

Beatrice’s journey took her to the pinnacle of her sport, representing the United States in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. “Tokyo was a huge milestone, showing me how capable I am and how to mentally prepare myself for competitions. It definitely shaped me mentally in the fact that I don’t stress any more at shows,” Beatrice expressed. “I trained hard for several years to get to where I am today.”

Her journey changed the way she views competition and life itself. The Paralympics became a platform to express her unwavering determination. She explained, “I don’t see international competitions as big-time competitions; I see them as another show.”I don’t see international competitions as like big time competitions or to see them as another show. I don’t stress anymore, before competitions”.

Riding became Beatrice’s lifeline during her recovery. The bond she shared with her horse, Mirador, provided a renewed sense of purpose. “She saved my life,” Beatrice says. “She put things back into perspective and gave me the strength to get back on my feet, both in my wheelchair and on my horses.”

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Beatrice met Delegada (DeeDee) after the accident

Beatrice and horses: an unbreakable bond

Beatrice’s relationship with horses goes beyond the competition. “They’ve been my rock, on good days and bad days. They’ve always been there,” she shared. Her bond with her horses provides her with the freedom she yearns for. “When I’m on the horse, I don’t feel handicapped,” she said. “I don’t feel like my legs don’t work because I’m capable of doing things that I should not be capable of doing.”

The privilege of riding allows her to escape the confines of her wheelchair, offering freedom and movement that might otherwise be elusive.

Her story underscores the power of horses to transform lives and break barriers. She says “If you work hard and you believe in yourself, you can really do anything”.

This unique journey has shaped Beatrice’s perspective on competition and life itself. The stress and pressure of the Paralympics were met with an incredible sense of calm and determination. Beatrice’s experience taught her that international competitions were not insurmountable obstacles but rather opportunities to showcase her ability and dedication.

One of the most memorable moments in Beatrice’s equestrian career was competing in Doha, Qatar. Her outstanding performances contributed to the United States winning a gold medal as a team, marking a historic achievement for international competition. These moments are a testament to her resilience and the power of teamwork. “Winning a gold medal for the United States in Doha was a testament to what can be accomplished when hearts and efforts unite,” she said.

Another Beatrice’s important success was the bronze medal in the FEI World Championship in Herning, with Sixth Sense.

We asked what she thought about the teamwork and how important are the coordination and the relationships with all the team’s members, “I’m very, very lucky. I have a team that I get along very well with. We’re truly a team. We all get along and support each other whenever we need it,” she continues “Personally, I’ve grown up playing multiple sports where there’s a team and that camaraderie teaches you so much about relationships and how to, encourage other people other than yourself, And that created a really strong bond with the other girls on the team.”

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Beatrice De Lavalette and Clarc – 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo (c) US equestrian

Beyond the equestrian world

Beyond her competitive career, Beatrice is dedicated to completing her studies and pursuing another aim: bringing adaptive sports equipment to people with disabilities at an affordable price. Her commitment to creating opportunities and making hem accessible to all, regardless of their financial situation.

Beatrice’s journey is an extraordinary illustration of courage. It’s a story of hope rekindled from despair, of dreams achieved against the odds. Beatrice’s indomitable spirit, her journey of triumphing over tragedy, is an inspiration for us all. She is a living embodiment of the adage that the human heart and will can conquer even the most formidable challenges life may present. Beatrice De Lavalette is not just an equestrian champion; she is a champion of life itself.

V. Sozzi

Photos provided by Beatrice De Lavalette showing Beatrice De Lavalette and Clarc – 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo (c) US equestrian

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