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Manon Claeys. Belgian Equestrian Paralympian
This week I’m chatting with Belgian international paralympian dressage rider Manon Claeys. Based in Belgium, Manon competes in competitions all over the world and has won medals at numerous European Championships and also won two bronze medals at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics (held in 2021). Manon is currently working towards representing her country again at the 2024 Paris Paralympics. Read on to learn more about the remarkable Manon, her ambitions, and top tips for success.

Tell about you and your horses

Manon Claeys. Belgian Equestrian Paralympian
Manon with Prima Donna Sollenburg. One of her three year old mares (Electron x Vivaldi x Metall)
I’m Manon Claeys.  Because of an accident when I was twenty one years old I became a Paralympic dressage rider.   Horses were and are always in my life, I have 5 horses at this moment:   San Dior Katharina Sollenburg (aka Koekie) Naomi Sollenburg Prima Donna Sollenburg (she is pregnant) Sonnentanz


How did horses come into your life?

I started horse riding when I was five years old.  When I was twelve I got my first pony (my mom was on a holiday and my dad said to us listen kids we are going to buy a pony for Manon and mom can’t know so if mama calls you shut up …. So my mom called and the first words my brother said to my mama was oh mama we bought a pony).  


When and where do you ride?

Sonnentanz old was born earlier this year. He is Noamis baby. Manon says he will be prepared for the stallion license when he is older
My horses that I compete with are at my trainers stable (Domien Michiels) and the younger horses are at home with my parents .  


How did you start riding?

At home we could choose every sport we wanted to do.  But for me it was already very clear that it would be horse riding.

 What you and your horses currently working on? 

Manon Claeys paralympic dressage rider
Manon with San Dior. This pairing have achieved remarkable successes together including becoming 2 x vice European champions in 2017 and 2019 and also winning
two bronze medals at the Paralympics in Tokyo 2021


At the moment I am working towards the Paralympic Games in Paris.  I have Koekie that is the horse that I will ride in Paris.  But I’m also preparing Naomi, she will start her first international in Qatar in February.  

What do you love about riding?

Manon Claeys and her dressage horseNaomi Sollenburg
Manon and Naomi Sollenburg. (Just Wimphof x inspecteur x Ramiro )
She will be Manon’s reserve horse for Paris 2024
 I love everything.  The freedom when I’m on my horse, the fact that let go of your fears and your control, the trust that you need to have in your horse and your horse in you.  And especially for us with a disability the horses become our legs so they cover a bit our disability.


What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?

My first goal is to do the best I can in Paris.  Have a lot of fun with my horses and see where our journey will bring us

Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?  

In the beginning I had a lot of nerves, but San Dior is a very sensitive horse and he forced me to let go of my nerves because he can’t deal with it.  And also I have a very good sport psychologist that taught me tips and tricks to let my nerves go .  

Do you any rituals before competing?

Manon and Katharina Sollenburg (aka Koekie) (Electron x jazz x krack c x ferro )
Koekis recently won two bronze medals at the European champions in Riesenbeck 2023.
She will be Manon’s first horse for Paris 2024 .
 Yes, I always clean and tack my horses myself before competing because that’s my moment with my horse

Your Top Tip

  That you always stay true to yourself, your horse, and your team.  And always have fun in what you do.  



What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?

  That it’s only over when it’s over and that your only lose when you give up.  



Down the Centre Line


Who would be your dream horse to ride?

  All my horses but is if I can say a famous horse it would be Dante Weltino  


Who is your equestrian hero?

  Hmmm, that’s difficult but I love the riding and the horsemanship of Charlotte Dujardin



If you could have 5 people to dinner, who would they be?

My grandparents (because they were my biggest supporter next to my parents and my partner) my parents and my partner because they do so much for me .   But if I need to choose between the famous ones it would be Isabel Werth , Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester, my trainer Domien Michiels and me.  


Favourite colour horse?

  I love every colour because a good horse doesn’t have a colour



Favourite horse event?

  Chio Aachen  


Favourite food?



Favourite way to relax?

  Netflix with a cola and a bag of chips


Favourite film?

  The Meg (because I’m a huge fan of Jason Statham)

Want More?

If you enjoyed meeting  Manon you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here    You can keep up with Manon’s progress and check out her instagram page here 


Sharon Howe

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Hi! I am Sharon Howe

Country & Equestrian Blogger

Hello My name is Sharon Howe and I am horse mad. This site is my place to scribble away my…


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