Natalie Lankester is a professional dressage rider who will represent UAE in the Asian Games in September 2022.
Originally from the UK, Natalie developed a love of horses at an early age thanks to her grandmother who was herself a dressage rider. “Once you get a connection with a horse, it stays inside you,” Natalie says.
However, as the years went by she focused more on her education and dressage remained a hobby. That was until she moved to Dubai in 2010.
“It had been drawing me back, I couldn't watch horses on television and not feel something,” she told Euronews.
In 2014, she got her first horse in Dubai, which was a racehorse.
“He got me into the sport here, so I am very thankful for that”, she added. Eventually, Natalie met her husband, Rashid, who had won a silver medal for the UAE in the Asian Games in 2010 for showjumping. “Although we share the same passion, we are in different disciplines, so we get to enjoy the environment and the journey together without actually being competitors directly,” she said.
Natalie progressed in her career and with the help of her horses Allie and Viva she got her through her first seasons in the UAE. “I was developing my horses, I was developing myself, and then my husband was diagnosed with leukaemia”, she told Euronews.
During times of uncertainty and worry, Natalie found her serenity with her horses who gave her the “calmness and positivity” that she needed to “fight the battles of the day” by her husband’s side. “It was at that time I really appreciated the relationship I have with the horses. They are able to connect with me and keep me really grounded”, she explained.
After Rashid had responded well to his treatments, Natalie went back to competitions, with her horses Echo and Furst Dance DXB and got her spot in the UAE team for the Asian Games 2022.
“I am very proud to call Dubai home. I am proud to be a part of the development of the dressage scene here, and I hope to do something and make everyone proud”, Natalie says.
For more, please visit the Destination Dubai hub on Euronews.com.