Svetlana Kiseliova Enables Big Breakthrough for Small Dressage Nation
The 2012 Olympic Games in London mark quite a breakthrough for Ukrainian dressage: for the first time in twenty years a Ukrainian dressage rider made an Olympic appearance with Svetlana Kiseliova and Parish as Ukrainian trail-blazers at Greenwich Park. At the moment Ukraine is what one might call a “small dressage nation” with only few Grand Prix riders competing at the Grand Prix level.
This has not always been the case. Ukrainian dressage once was quite a big deal and had its moments of glory. The turmoil of the years just before and right after the Soviet Union’s collapse badly affected horse breeding and equestrian sports in Ukraine. With political turbulence and economic recession tearing the country apart all things equestrian were not considered to be of foremost importance and ended up being pushed to the back burner from which the Ukrainian horse industry is still desperately struggling to recover after the years of oblivion.
During those years some of the country’s best sport horses were sold abroad, along with large numbers of quality stallions, broodmares and youngstock. Some of the trainers and riders emigrated in search of better opportunities elsewhere. However there were people whose enthusiasm and hard work helped to keep the show on the road despite trying circumstances. In recent years the situation has improved. A couple of top class breeding, training and competition facilities have been built. A large string of CDI’s and two World Cup qualifiers were organized in 2011-2012, and most importantly Svetlana Kiseliova qualified for the Olympics as the top ranked rider in FEI Olympic Group C.
Svetlana started riding in her teens. In an interview she said that she had probably inherited her passion for horses from her grandfather who was a keen horseman. Svetlana was a member of Ukrainian junior and young rider dressage teams. As a senior she won multiple National Championships as well as many CDI’s on home turf and abroad and participated in several European Championships. Throughout her riding career she was lucky enough to work with some of the best dressage trainers in Ukraine: Olympic medalist Vera Misevich, Iryna Murashova, who used to train many of the Ukrainian Olympic riders, and last but not least, Yuri Kovshov under whose tutelage Svetlana has achieved all her major successes.
Svetlana has been training with Kovshov for seventeen years now. Yuri is no stranger to the Olympic Games, having won team gold and individual silver. He has also won two team silver medals at the European Championships and a silver medal at the WEG. Svetlana came to work with Yuri Kovshov in 1995 and in 1996 made her international debut with chestnut Caravan. Since that time she has trained and competed many horses, but it was Parish who finally took her all the way to the Olympics.
Parish is a 15 year old dark bay Ukrainian warmblood gelding by Iris. Actually his name is Parizh which is Ukrainian word for Paris, but somehow it got twisted and now at the international competitions the horse goes by Parish. As a young horse Parish was slow to mature and very tricky to ride. The managers of the training facility that owned Parish thought that he lacked the ability to ever become a Grand Prix horse and wanted to sell him as soon as possible. However Kovshov had faith in Parish and talked them into keeping the horse. Working with Parish was not all fun and games. Svetlana and Parish have come a long way together and this way has led them to what is hands down the most important moment in any athlete’s career, to the Olympics.
Text by Lena Stusenko
Photos © Astrid Appels