Horse Girls through History: Lis Hartel
In my universe, “horse girls” are bad-ass women of any age, from 8 to 80 and many times several years either side of that span.
March is Women’s History Month and as I’ve typed that I think my eyes rolled back in my head because confining the celebration of women’s contributions to history to 30 days seems a little skimpy to say the least. However, while the subject of women through history can fill much more than 30 days of content, I’m happy to jump on the bandwagon and shall pursue my usual theme of “anything about horses” and celebrate “horse girls through history”.
I think you shall see that throughout time, “horse girls” are the leaders of the pack in defying conventions. But do equestrian pursuits create these strong, adventuresome women or do these females let nothing stand between them and satisfying their craving for the company of these powerful animals? Bit of both? Who cares, but I’m sure someone has expounded on the idea at some point or another.
In the beginning of today’s post I said that “horse girls” are bad-ass women from 8 to 80 and many times several years either side of that span”? Well, you’re about to meet someone who pushed that envelope—Lis Hartel from Denmark. Being the first woman to medal in an Olympic Equestrian event would be more than enough to put Lis on the history making list, but when you add in the fact that Lis did so 8 years after contracting polio—AND she remained paralyzed from the knees down—then the extraordinary factor goes through the roof. Lis Hartel’s story is very well documented on the internet so you could click on one of the many, many articles written about her.
To put a very fine point on it, Lis defied the opinion of her doctors and did her own rehab, competed successfully at open International level competitions (in the beginning no one knew about her condition but because she couldn’t mount or dismount without help it became common knowledge pretty quickly) was the first woman to be on an Olympic equestrian team and the first woman to medal. After she retired from competition she continued to coach and teach added another “first” to her list of accomplishments when she opened the first Therapeutic Riding Center in Europe.
Lis didn’t follow examples—she forged the way. Horse Girls—Bad-Ass Women of Any Age.