Pepo Puch’s second life

Until 2008, Austrian Pepo Puch was at the top of all the international Eventing competitions, event competing in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Four years later, a bad fall left him with no feeling in his legs. Horse riding was an integral part of his rehabilitation and has taken him to other major events: first, London, where Puch went home as the Paralympic champion in 2012 in Para-Dressage Grade 1b, and now Caen, where he will take part in his first World Equestrian Games. 

Pepo Puch’s second life
© PSV Photos

You arrived in Caen yesterday morning. What are your first impressions?

Everything is excellent. The schedules, especially the schooling arenas, are jam packed, but I’m incredibly happy to be in Caen, right in the centre of the event. The course is just fabulous. 

You’re coming in with a Para-Olympic title. What’s your goal for these Games?

These are my first World Equestrian Games, and I’ve got my mare Fine Feeling, who competed in London. She’s doing great and is in top form. I’ve been letting her rest up for the Games. Obviously, we’re going to do everything we can to be the best, even if at the team level I think it’s going to be tough for Austria to place in the top five. Individually, anything could happen (smiles).

You probably embody the spirit of the Games better than anyone, wouldn’t you say?

It’s true that I’ve participated in major Eventing competitions, and later in Para-Dressage. And few people remember, but before all that, I was the European Endurance champion over 160 km in the early nineties. So if I can, I’m going to do everything possible to make the most of my Games, including supporting my Eventing teammates. 

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