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Yuko the equestrienne

All awards and ribbons on the shelf, but nothing make her happier than caring for her horses.

Yuko Yamada watched the horse jumping shows on television for hours, and it seemed so far away. Finally she convinced her parents – this sport was for her. But the love for the sport was not the most important thing that was growing in her; it was the love for living things.

Yuko Yamada started to ride at the age of ten. But her passion for horses started even earlier. When she was just a very young girl, growing up in central Tokyo, Japan, far away from the horse stables, she spent hour after hour in front of the television watching horse jumping shows with professional equestriennes that she really admired.

“Seeing all the beautiful and strong horses, I was mesmerized. I love animals in general, but this seemed like such a special one.”

No one else in the family had been riding horses, but after several tries Yuko managed to convince her parents that there was no other option than to let her join a riding club.

She quickly became one of the most frequent club visitors and learned how to ride a horse in no time. And she wasn’t going to do just any type of horse riding – it was show jumping that appealed to her the most.

“Training became more and more intense as I started competing. My goal was to become a national athlete,” she remembers. “And the best thing was that I did not have to do it alone, horse riding is fantastic in that way – you have a partner every step of the way.”

Yuko has won many championships since and has a large shelf full of awards and ribbons. They mean a lot to her, but it’s not the most important part of her years as a competing equestrienne.

“For me it has always been most about the relationship with the horses. There is a special connection when you need to trust someone like that. It has to be a perfect match when we clear the bar together,” explains Yuko.

Even if competing on a high level made it important to spend many hours training and improving the technique, most of the time has gone into caring for her beloved animals.

She has two horses of her own today – the stallions Sky Cruiser and Carlos. While Sky Cruiser is strong and a bit shy and sensitive, Carlos is a curios fellow who enjoys everything and gets very excited when he is about to go jump the bars.

“We are not competing anymore, which means I get to spend all the time in the stable caring for them. They are such gentle animals and it is my responsibility to make sure they have a happy life. When it comes to living things you cannot stop care halfway, that insight is something I bring with me in everything I do.”

She visits the stable in the early mornings to give Sky Cruiser and Carlos a bath, brush them, feed them and go for a long morning ride.

“It is fun, healing and relaxing for me to spend time with them, and it is important for them to feel relaxed as well. Unlike humans sometimes, animals are very straightforward and I learn from them.”

She feels that her passion for horses gives her an enormous amount of energy to bring back to work at Getinge, where she is a sales representative.

“It is really rewarding to work in the Medtech industry, being part of providing our customers solutions that can help save people’s lives. It gives me energy too to bring back home to the stable and spend on my precious horses.”

In the future Yuko wants to learn and inspire other young girls to start riding horses.

“My daughter is still a bit too young, but one day I am hoping to put her on the back of a horse, if she wants to. The freedom, belongingness and love you feel up there – that is something I would recommend anyone trying.”