Athens   -   Riding With Royalty   -   Portugal   -   World Equestrian Games




September 28, 2004

Gold has always been my metal of choice but it seems that Bronze takes to me more so!  Still, I am very pleased, and as the days pass by and I hold two Paralympic medals in my hand, the surreal feelings go away, and the realization, with all that it embraces, floods my mind and soul!  I feel full at the time being and hope that these feelings last indefinitely!

Today was an easy day and my biggest job was to have my two medals engraved, so I got my name and Dasskara’s name put on them.  The Mare left yesterday, and I cried as I took her for one last walk around.  She pulled at the palm tree leaves and licked some good old Greek dirt……..and tore even a bigger piece of my heart out as I put her back in her stall and said goodbye!  She is the NICEST mare I know, and pray that someone buys her who is worthy of her.  To be able to seriously afford to buy her is far beyond my means, but as long as the person who gets her calls her Princess with a Capital “P” then it will be ok.  I also said goodbye to my Mom and Sister yesterday and that was equally hard.  I’ve loved having them both here and their support means the world to me.

I'm hoping that this bubble that I’ve been living in for the last two months doesn’t pop too soon, so when you see me back in Canada, and I’m still walking around in a daze, then you know my bubble is still intact!  Once again, I must say “Life is Good”!

All my love, Karen and Princess, the Mare




September 18, 2004

When I walked out into the Stadium at the Opening Ceremonies last night, it hit me like a ton of bricks, I am here!!  As I walked out in front of the crowds, heard the 70,000 people screaming and cheering, seeing proud Canadian flags being waved, and watching my fellow Canadian athletes march and smile from ear to ear, it really hit me hard!  And then I said to myself that this is where I have always wanted to be in my life, and that it felt normal, like I was meant to be there and I just had to bide my time before I got to be there!  It felt like a milestone had just passed below my feet and that regardless of what happened from here on in, that I had actually reached the top of my Olympic mountain and could enjoy the view!  Thank you once again for  everyone’s help in every way that you have all helped me!

So I’d like to say that the view is BEAUTIFUL, and that I was so overwhelmed that I had to thank God right there and then, not only for just having been blessed with the moment, but for all the people in my life that have helped lift me up to be able to see this beautiful view!

Leaving Germany was quite emotional for me as I felt as though I had been accepted by the DQ barn at Conrad’s, and had begun settling into a routine/life with these people.  It was intense and also very inspiring.  Seeing Grand Prix horses and riders every day does wonders for your riding, and makes you want to be even better than ever.

I have become very fond of Conrad, and being able to see him each day at the barn, and his supportive words, means a lot to me, so having him here in Athens to Coach me, is wonderful!  He has quickly become my Mentor, and his expertise means a huge amount to me.  I know I will work with him again one day after these Games, and that it will be him that gets me to the Grand Prix level.  He truly is great from both a coaches perspective and also as a human being and I am grateful for having the past 6 weeks under his expert eye!

Dasskara, and I will do our best to keep Canada proud!

Your Canadian hopeful in Athens on a gold medal mission,  Love, Karen



September 7, 2004

The count down is on and I’m doing my final preparations.  The vet work and farrier work
been done, we have our spare shoes, and I am in the midst of packing for the last phase of my Road to Athens.  The other two Canadian horses are arriving in Germany on Thursday, having a lay-over at Conrad’s barn and then my horse and Lauren’s horse will join the horses from Canada and fly out of Munster on Friday.  I will leave on Saturday, joining the Canadian Team in Athens!  How exciting!

There have been some changes and I am now taking the mare to Athens.  Otis is a lovely horse but we had a few problems and I had to make a decision which horse to take.  I decided on the mare and I felt very badly telling the van Rijckevorsel’s my decision.  They proved once again what super people they were and fully understood, saying, “you have to take the best horse and we wouldn’t want you to take Otis just for our sake!”.  They are truly high class people, and wished me all the best.  Thank you!

With Conrad’s help, we have totally changed my Kur since the music didn’t suit her and I could make the pattern much more complicated.  It is a true Prix St. George level Kur now, which comes with a degree of pressure for me, but it is also totally cool to be doing 3 time changes, half canter pirouettes, zig zag trot half passes and more intricate patterns.  Conrad has been so amazing with me, helping me so much!

I can honestly say that if I had to go home today, that I would consider my adventure as being totally fulfilling and beyond all I ever hoped for.  I have had so many ‘firsts’ since I’ve been over here, and once again been happily surprised by the kindness and generosity of strangers and newly made friends.  Life is good!  I am at times emotionally overwhelmed and even cry at just how lucky I have been.

So, with a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have helped me get to be in the position that I am now in, I must say good bye, although I hope to write again from Athens!  Please know that you are all in my thoughts and that I truly am grateful for your support!   My saying is that behind every individual athlete competing at the Olympics/Paralympics, it takes an entire community to support them!  I know that is true because I could not have gotten here by myself!  So thank you all once again!

Keep you fingers crossed for me!

All my love,  Karen and “the Mare”



August 13, 2004

Training with Conrad is amazing!  He’s even been nicer than I remembered!  He’s been kind, considerate, patient and totally supportive towards me.  The riding with Otis is going well.  There are some issues regarding a few movements with him, and Conrad and Ellen Bontje have expressed their concerns to me.  Ellen took me to try out two other horses and I rode each one.  The gelding was nice enough but ……….. the mare was stunning!  So things may change, but we’ll see.

I watched the Opening Ceremonies tonight for the Olympics and was crying through a lot of it.  At moments like that I can’t believe that I’m on my road to being there myself.  It’s amazing!  I’m so emotional, I imagine about the drug testing people coming to random test me and finding me in tears and thinking, “oh yeah, no use of downers here!!”.  It just really is overwhelming………and I’m cherishing every minute of the experience.

Thank you to all of you who have helped me in any way throughout all of my preparations for the Paralympic Games!

Cheers from Germany!

All my love, Karen



July 29, 2004

On July 27th, 2004 Karen flew to Germany to begin her journey on the “Road to Athens”.   She arrived safely in Frankfurt and after staying the night, she will take the train to Belgium where she will meet up with Otis, the horse she will be taking to Athens.  Otis is owned and ridden by Belgium Team athlete, Constantin Van Rijckevorsel.  He competed Otis at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, in 3-day eventing, where he placed 8th.  Constantin and Otis also competed at the World Equestrian Games in 1998 when Karen was there, representing Canada with her horse Double Take.  They did not know each other, but through word of mouth, he heard Karen was looking for a horse to ride and offered his horse to Karen.  It seems very fitting, that an ex-World Equestrian Games event rider should be riding an ex-World Equestrian Games event horse at the Paralympic Games in Athens.

Karen will compete Otis in Dressage the beginning of August in Belgium, and then will travel to Germany with Otis to start her training with Conrad Schumacher.



For immediate release

Ottawa, July 6, 2004

An Experienced and Talented Canadian Team

The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) is pleased to announce the 2004 Canadian Team attending the XII Paralympic Summer Games scheduled for September 17-28, 2004 in Athens.

The Paralympics are the pinnacle of international multi-sport competition for elite athletes with a physical disability.

The Canadian Team numbers 144 athletes (91 men and 53 women) from all 10 provinces who will compete in 13 of the 19 sports on the Games program.  Ontario fields the most athletes at 46 (32 percent), followed by BC at 35 (25 percent), and Quebec with 30 athletes (21 percent).  The team’s average age is 32.  The youngest member is swimmer Rhea Schmidt at 18 and the oldest is sailor David Williams at 65.

Leading the way are four athletes who are headed to their sixth Paralympic Games:  Jacques Martin and Clayton Gerein in track and field and Linda Kutrowski and Chantal Benoit in wheelchair basketball.

Even with 18 fewer athletes on the Canadian team this year than in Sydney, so much talent remains that the medal expectations are still high.  In Australia, Canadian Paralympians earned a record 96 medals and finished third overall in the country standings.  In Atlanta in 1996, Canada was seventh overall with 71 medals.

"With the infusion of  $900,000 over the past two years from the Paralympic Excellence Fund, targeted towards athletes demonstrating medal potential, we are confident our athletes have been able to benefit from the highest level of training and preparation possible for the Games,” added Barbeau.

All the athletes hope to achieve personal bests in Athens………………..

Athens Final Team List is available as a pdf download:

Luc Robert
Media Relations Coordinator
Canadian Paralympic Committee



Ontario Equestrian Federation

June 29, 2004

The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) recently announced the 2004 Canadian Team attending the XII Paralympic Summer Games scheduled for September 17-28, 2004 in Athens, Greece.

The Paralympics are the pinnacle of international multi-sport competition for elite athletes with a physical disability.

OEF members Judi Island of Cheltenham, Jenni Rowe of Guelph, and Karen Brain of London, ON have all been selected for the Canadian Paralympic Equestrian Team headed to Athens.

Karen was a tremendously inspirational speaker at the OEF Annual Conference last fall.  Karen, Jenni and Judi were all recipients of an OEF Recognition Award at the 2003 Annual Banquet in honour of their international competitive achievements.

The OEF would like to wish them and their team the best of luck with their training and at the Games!

Thank you For:
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Website Copyright: Karen Brain 2004