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Belgium based, Ukranian international dressage rider Sofiia Konstantynivska has represented her country many times and was part of the Ukraine national team at the European Championships in Fonteinblue, France in 2018 and also at the 2022 European Championships at Hartpury, Great Britain in 2022. Sofiia lives and works at the famous Begijnhoeve, European dressage centre of excellence and stud farm and has been competing for her country since the age of thirteen.

Tell us about you and your horses

Sofia and Aquafortis at the Slovakia CDI 3*
My name is Sofiia Konstanynivska and I’m nineteen years old. I’ve been part of the national Ukrainian team. From children (thirteen years old) until now.  I’ve been horse riding since I was eight years old, a total of eleven years and a lot has happened in those eleven years. But first, perhaps I’ll tell you about my horses. The first horse with whom we continue our common 5th starting season is Aquafortis ( Quaterback / Londonderryn). He is 12 years old this year. He is a German sporting breed,  I bought when I was fifteen years old. Time has flown by too quickly. During this time, we have been through fire and water together! They became Champions of Ukraine, champions, and prize-winners of international competitions. We also left with a good result at the European Youth Championships in England 2022

As for the second horse, his name is S-Line (Selectic/Delamanga ) He is 4 years old this year and is a Westphalian. I bought him recently (half a year ago) I bought it as such a small and sweet child. I can’t believe how much he has grown in my eyes, my coach’s eyes and physically!  Soon his competition journey begins. His first competition in life and my first competition as a rider on young horses. Honestly. Can not wait!
Sofia and her first horse, Tonus, at the Curtis European Championships in Fonteinblue 2018
I have been on the Ukrainian national team since I was thirteen years old and my first experience as an international athlete was in the Czech Republic. Brno. There I performed with my first horse Tonus. Where they performed consistently and were among the top 10 riders at that time. Then there was my first European Championship in Fontainebleau. First day. Oh my God. It’s scary to even remember. This was probably one of the worst performances! Noooo! This is an experience and you can’t get it any other way. The second day was MUCH better! And I was very pleased with myself and the horse!  

How did horses come into your life?

Sofia at the FEI European Junior and Young Riders Championships at Hartpury 2022
I feel like horses have been in my life since before I was born! Since childhood, I have been connected spiritually and physically with animals. In any parks and in any places where there were horses, I asked my parents to ride a horse. And now I am eight years old and I understood at that moment that I wanted to start studying professionally. But there was a very difficult choice – equestrianism or tennis. Why tennis? And I’ll tell you. My mother is the Absolute Tennis Champion of the entire Soviet Union! And my mother really wanted me to become better, taller and stronger than her in this sport. Then my life took a completely different turn and I became a professional equestrian athlete. So there you go! I was 8 years old and for my birthday my parents gave me training on a sports horse with a professional trainer at an equestrian club.  I couldn’t have been any happier or more joyful at that moment. So what do you think? Yes! Yes! I said that only this sport! And I promised myself that I would strive, work, study and listen! I will try my best! Am I glad that I made a choice in favor of equestrian sports? YES! And my choice will not change! I will choose only this sport every second, minute, hour and day!


When and where do you ride?

Sofiia Konstantynivska international dressage rider
Sofia and Aquafortis at the European Championships 2022 in England
My horses have a mandatory regime, which in turn helps them maintain energy and maintain a sports regime. For young horses, I always prefer to change days, hours, loads. Since this is a young organism that grows every day and it needs mandatory rest and restoration of muscles, body, and health. To show results for the next workout. For my 4-year-old horse, I use in turn – cavaletti (on horseback and in hand) – mandatory standard training, work in hand and just weekends when he just walks and enjoys life. For my adult horse, everything is much simpler, since he is already a teacher in his field. Ha Ha. So here it is. Fortes has certain days where we eat circuits, work on big prize elements and ride competitive circuits ( young rider ) and days when he just chills in the paddock I stand, work and train in Belgium. The name of the stable and its owners are known to everyone – Begijnhoeve.

Who do you train with?

Yes, I have the only and very important person in my life – my coach. Veronica Liiv. She is famous in the Netherlands/Belgium for selling and buying horses.  Actually I work with her and her horses. I study, get the best experience and knowledge only from her. She is more than just a coach to me, she is already like a family member to me We have a lot of plans, goals and tasks for this year that I would like to accomplish this year, I would like to train and gain experience from the famous horseman Edward Gal. Why him? Precision and clarity of rides. From letter to letter. Every inhalation and exhalation. Every movement. Every step of horse and rider. That’s how I can describe this athlete and rider. Here is the answer to the question. Why him!

What you and your horses currently working on?

Sofia and Aquafortis at the Belarus CDI 3* 2021
One of my favorite questions in this interview. As an athlete, before each starting season, I work on physical and mental practice. I tone my body and mind. I work with horses from the horse’s moral preparation to physical activity. Right now I am working on the base with Aquafortis, this horse was not in work for some time, and now I have decided that I will. work only on the basic elements. This includes transitions, forward leg work, body stabilization and balance work, as well as conditioning the correct muscles and body work. From the S-Line I work on the base of the young horse. These are transitions within the gait, these are standard transitions, working downwards forward from the leg, stabilisation, and development of the correct muscles and, of course, the mental development of the young horse.


What do you love about riding?

Sofiia Konstantynivska Ukraine dressage rider
Sofiia and and Bobby Fischer competing in Kharkiv, Ukraine. 2019
What do I like about riding? Can I answer EVERYTHING? Ha Ha! Well, it seems to me that everyone likes the result of the work. And especially when you take a “raw” horse and after half a year this horse runs 69-71, it’s almost as if he had the potential that you brought to life. This is for me the best reward in working with horses. I really love the process of work, communication with animals, teaching and learning. I enjoy the process


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

There are a lot of plans, goals, work, and tasks. For this year, next year and the future. There are dreams that will soon become goals, and after a while I will remember that plans were once realised several years ago, they were just dreams. But, if possible, of course, I wouldn’t tell them for them because I’m a little superstitious and wouldn’t want to tell them about my goals!  

It takes a team to do dressage, who is in your support team?

My coach is my biggest support and support.

Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding? 

OF COURSE! This was, is and will be even among professional and experienced riders. And I believe that only through difficulties in training/competitions, only through deplorable experiences do we become stronger, wiser, and more experienced in any business. Whether it’s business, whether it’s study or university, whether it’s sports! And in my understanding, all the people who have achieved something in life have not had the best experience. Well, yes. I had difficulties, difficult moments in training and I still do.


How do you deal with them?

Previously, it was very difficult both mentally and physically to cope with difficulties in training and sports life. But over time, I started working with my sports psychologist and began to understand how I needed to act correctly in a given situation. So! How do I fight and cope with difficulties? I accept them! Yes! Everything is correct! I accept my mistakes and wrong actions, and I understand that this is just a small part of what could happen next. And when I turn back and think, “How cool it is that I had a problem during that training session, now I already know how to deal with it!”

Do you have any rituals before competing?

Communication with the horse, braiding, talking, discussing the future start and relaxing with your four-legged friend.  


Your Top Tip

How I was waiting for this question! So, let’s begin. If anything, I had too many good, successful, and positive competitions. But there is one that has stuck with me for many years. And yes, it’s the European Championships in England. So. Let’s start with the fact that England is one of my favorite countries. And of course, take part in the European Championship and even in your favorite country! You can imagine my feelings then. So, there you go. The day we arrived there. Everything is new, everything is interesting and everything is so exciting. I was absolutely delighted. The vet check was successful. The training before the competition went very well. But here is the first day of the competition. God! It was just a failure! But I worked through the mistakes, accepted the fact that there is something to work on and went to the next day with confidence! But on the individual test the result was so good! If not for a small mistake at the gallop! And I want to tell you that even she didn’t stop me from enjoying the process! At the trot the scores were 7/7.5/8 consistently! Excellent ride presentation! I was delighted! But you know what’s most important! When you give the go-ahead signal and the whole podium stands up and you bathe in applause! When the commentators say, this was the best test from the Ukrainian team and when you look at the coach and understand “Yes!” You did it!”

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

There has been a lot of advice throughout my sports career. From advice for physical education and development, moral and psychological preparation. Also, a lot of necessary and wise advice on working with horses. But. Yes. There was one piece of advice. To be honest, I don’t remember who told me, but I have always remembered these words “A horse and a person are always one whole, if you want to achieve a lot with this horse, then always be one with it, and then any doors to your future will open.



Down the Centre Line


Who would be your dream horse to ride?


Who is your equestrian hero?

Edward Gal and Anky Van Grusven

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

I’ve never thought about such a question, it’s hard to answer, it would be the people I am closest to with whom I would share my secrets.

Favourite colour horse?



Favourite horse event?

World Young Horse Championships


Favourite food?


Favourite way to relax?

Travelling with friends and a change of scenery


Favourite film? Mind Game


Want More?

If you enjoyed meeting Sofiia you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here .  You can keep up with Sofiia’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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