Together with her three horses, Stine has come a long way as a dressage and pair rider. Now new ambitions have emerged, and she is in the process of building her own business on the farm in Denmark. Photo: Private
Get to know Norwegian champion Stine Skillebekk:
Stine Skillebekk (23) has a medal collection without equal. She has been on the podium in almost every NM since 2015. The dressage rider, who was born with cerebral palsy, can thank a multi-operation many years back for the fact that she can now fully and completely bet on the horses.
– We operate and refurbish. It should have been finished by now, but there have been some complications, such is always the case with such construction projects. The summer paddocks are finished, but we are missing the everyday paddocks.
Stine Skillebekk calls me while she mucks the boxes in the newly renovated stable in North Jutland in Denmark. There are still things that need to be in place, but it will work out, and now the riding house is finished.
– The farm has not been used in this way, even though there were stables here from before. We have oiled and freshened it up a bit, she says.
But we must come back to that. Because it’s the dressage rider we know her as. Although some may not be aware that it is actually a paratrooper competing against. Stine van also competes in a number of similar dressage classes, even though she was born with cerebral palsy. She enjoys doing a little of both.
– I often forget the past life. Before I had multi-surgery, this could not have been in my mind once. That I can now think about the future with the horses, and want to make a living from it, is absolutely incredible.
Was bullied growing up
Stine thanks the CP for developing a strong will. Photo: Helene Gjerde Aamdal
Stine has ridden since she was five years old, but her functionality was far more limited until she underwent a multi-operation in 2010. She lengthened her Achilles tendon on her right side, took both hips and straightened the skew in her back, as she began to sway even more.
– I still notice that I have CP, and I will never get rid of it. But it is not normal to have CP and run a farm all by yourself, says the rider with a lot of courage.
However, it has not come for free. Stine can look back on a childhood with a lot of adversity and bullying. Today, she believes it has helped shape her as a person, and she feels confident in herself.
– I feel good about myself, and it helps the psyche. If you really want something, then you get it. It’s just a matter of having enough guts, and it is only oneself who puts a stop to it, she says.
Behind all the times Stine has stood on the podium, there is time and patience. She knew early on that she wanted to bet on horses. Photo: Helene Gjerde Aamdal
Stine can look back on gold in a number of Norwegian championships. After being part of the sport for many years, she moved her three horses to Aalborg in Denmark in 2018. Those experiences were also something that helped Stine.
– I grew a lot on working there. It was like I was too much of an adult. And at least now that I have no choice but to stand on my own two feet.
Men who demand my training disciplines and keep body functions. This has always been the case for Stine, who perhaps a little too often puts the horses before her own health.
– I work full days, and almost always have something else to tinker with. But I have to have time to train physically myself as well. Riding a horse is actually quite static, and I do pretty much the same thing. So by going to the gym every day, I make sure I am strong and have profits.
?? Instead, I’m here, with all my plans
– I received a message that made a big impression on me, says Stine, and continues:
Stine fell in love with the farm in Denmark, and is well on the way to renovating it. Photo: Private
– It was someone I met when I started in the focus group in Norway. She has not had multiple surgeries, and is a few years older than me. She really struggles with her body. Then I remember thinking I could have been there too. Instead, I’m here, with all my plans. I feel so privileged, because quite often I completely forget that I am disabled.
But Stine has made sure to facilitate a daily life where she works in the best possible way. That it was exactly Denmark that has moved to, for example, was not coincidental.
– The hotter it is, the better it is for my body. My muscles stay warm and soft when it’s not so cold. But I could probably choose Spain or the United States. I chose Denmark because there is no snow here, but this winter I have stood here with one meter of snow, she says and laughs.
This is how she settled in Denmark again, after a few years at home in Norway, while the corona pandemic was ravaging. And she is on less snow the coming winters, so she does not have to regret that there was no farm in Spain.
Will wipe dust off the competition coat again
How much has changed in Stine’s life is actually a bit unreal, she thinks. And not just the outside, but also something inside her. In the last season, time has gone to other projects, and Stine has not been able to prioritize her own efforts. Now she has new ambitions:
– I’ve got a different view. From being the person who just bets myself, I have a new focus. I want to pass on my knowledge to others, and instead of just coming to the Grand Prix and riding the U25, I think I will take more with me.
Stine knew what it meant for her to see the joy in the eyes of her own students. And then a new dream began to emerge. A dream to train to become a coach in Norway, and go home there to teach and hold courses on a regular basis.
– It is probably my biggest dream, at the same time as I will be able to live down here and learn a lot from it. But I’m going to bet, because it’s still a huge part of me.
Although Stine dreams of developing as an instructor, she does not want to put her own commitment completely on the shelf. Photo: Private
Both before and after she bought the farm in September last year, there has been a lot to do to facilitate her business up and running.
– I was a little afraid that I would have to take a year off from the venture, but I have friends and family who want to help me. So if both I and the horses stay fresh and healthy, we will wipe the dust off the competition coat and put our legs inside the paradressure again. I have the World Cup in sight for the summer, she says, before adding:
– If I get qualified then we’ll see what happens. But I will probably start for Norway, I have not become completely Danish.
The rest of the interview with Stine, and more about the new farm, you can read in a new case tomorrow.