Judging by the “Give way to horses” sign, and moments later, the presence of a hostile-looking horse, I’m in close proximity to the Paralympic dressage.
I’m here to watch Yonatan Dresler, an Israeli 26-year-old who has suffered from paralysis on his right side since birth, who came sixth in the world championships. He took up the sport as a child to boost his confidence. It’s nice to see the Israeli flag flying as the contest gets under way, but I keep my support for Dresler to myself because, at dressage, cheering is frowned upon until after the horse and rider are finished. Volunteers wave frantically to shush the crowd, which doesn’t do wonders for the atmosphere.
Not being as well-versed in riding as the well-coiffed crowd, I assess other considerations, including choice of song (some Keane, some Duffy) and swishiness of tail. The horse ridden by France’s Vladimir Vinchon easily wins this — unsurprising, given that his name is Flipper.
Dresler is up fourth and to my untrained eye seems to have great control over his horse. Ubelisk practically dances around, his tail moving in perfect time to the rousing strains of Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls.
Their performance earns plenty of applause, with someone across the stadium waving a huge Israeli flag. Sadly, it only gives him a score of 65.333, putting him 10th (above Argentina, at least).
Dresler fares no better on Tuesday in the freestyle test. But at least Ubelisk has a wonderfully swishy tail.