Lee Pearson is the most successful para-dressage rider of all time, having won a grand total of 28 gold medals since embarking on his professional dressage career in 1998. Lee is also the world’s most successful Equestrian Paralympian with 11 gold medals under his belt and 14 medals in total. Lee has won gold medals at each of the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. He was selected to be the Great Britain flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Games, at which he won a gold medal in the freestyle grade lb test and a silver medal in the grade lb individual test.
His contribution to equestrianism has not gone unnoticed and following the Sydney Games, Lee was awarded an MBE in 2001. This has since been followed by an OBE in 2005 after the Athens Games and a CBE in 2009 after the Beijing Games and a Knighthood in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list for services to equestrianism.
Lee was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a condition which means that the muscles in his arms and legs did not grow correctly. Lee had numerous operations as a child and even now he does not have mobility in his ankles and knees and has restricted movement in all of his other limbs.
Lee’s passion for horses was evident from a very young age and he first started riding aged eight. Lee’s first equine was actually a donkey called Sally and for Lee it was the “freedom, movement and energy” that riding gave him that provided him with his drive and love for dressage.
In 2015 Lee saw success at the FEI Para-Equestrian European Championships, Winning Gold in the team championships and Silver in both the Individual Championship (grade lb) and the Freestyle (grade lb) in 2015.
Aside from Lee’s para-dressage career, he also competes in able-bodied competitions up to Prix St Georges level. He was the first ever disabled rider to win a National Championship, back in 2003 when he won the Elementary Restricted National Championship on Blue Circle Boy. In 2017 Lee represented Great Britain in the World Para Reining Championship in Holland, winning Team Silver, the first time Great Britain has ever taken part. Lee is not hanging up his tail coat just yet, he has his sights firmly set on the Tokyo Olympics as a para dressage rider.
Lee headed to Tryon, North Carolina, for the World Equestrian Games in September 2018 and supported the para dressage team in their campaign to win Team Silver.