Hypo Advisors SA and its employees are very proud to financially support Flore Espina, a disabled athlete, with the aim of participating in the Tokyo Paralympic Games under the colors of Switzerland in 2021

A dramatic motorcycle accident radically changed Flore Espina’s life. But her passion for equestrian sports was stronger than the physical handicap with which she had to learn to live. Today, the dynamic sportswoman represents Switzerland in the perspective of the discipline of Para-Dressage.
Flore Espina dreams that one day, in Para-Dressage, she will be able to represent Switzerland at the Olympic Games. © Alberto Martínez Bracero

When the Spanish stallion Quincel de Valdesol gives his best in the dressage ring with Flore Espina on his back, the pair offers a perfect fusion. The grey reacts in a very voluntary way to the help of his rider and even in the most demanding exercises, he puts heart in everything he does. For the 35-year-old Neuchâteloise, it is not obvious to “dance” like this in the sand because her left leg had to be amputated below the knee due to gangrene.

Land of horses and adopted homeland: Spain

When Flore Espina started riding at the age of 4 while vacationing in Spain, she could not know that 30 years later this country and its horses will determine her life.

After this first equestrian experience in Spain, the horses never let go. His childhood in Val-de-Travers was dedicated to horseback riding, more oriented towards jumping. When she was 19, she decided to move to Spain to study veterinary medicine. But the reality was quite different: in August 2006, she suffered a serious motorcycle accident resulting in an open fracture of the tibia and fibula in her left leg. Unfortunately, her stay in the hospital became more complicated and her leg became damaged. Subsequently, his left leg had to be amputated below the knee.

In her first month of hospitalization, she underwent 21 surgeries. She suffered from very advanced gangrene and her internal organs began to fail. “I spent more than a month in intensive care, but in the end my will to live won,” says the fighter.

For Flore Espina, the horse is not only a leisure companion, but also the motivation to overcome daily challenges. © màd

Recovery of self-confidence thanks to Para-Dressage

After more than 100 days of hospitalization, Flore Espina left the hospital and had to adapt to her new life without legs: “I was then 21 years old, a mutilated body and I therefore had to learn everything again: to walk. , to get up, to keep the gaze of others. ”

During the first year of rehabilitation, she could not use a prosthesis because what was left of her leg was too damaged. She was therefore condemned to the wheelchair or crutches. Rehabilitation was slow and targeted to elderly amputees mostly due to diabetes. She was not moving forward and she was rather frustrated with her new situation.

Then one day she decided to fight and get up every day, “I decided to take this second opportunity to live that was given to me.” It was at this point that she met a German dressage rider who suggested that she try to get back on her horse together. Thus, Flore Espina resumed horse riding. However, the start was very complicated: “I had no physical strength and besides, I was psychologically weak. But little by little, it allowed me to rehabilitate myself both physically and emotionally”

Flore Espina as a model for the start-up UNYQ which produces, among other things, prosthetic covers with personalized designs. © uniq.com

Collaboration with a PRE horse farm

Soon after, the young mother of a little boy completed her studies in veterinary medicine at the University of Cordoba (ESP) and moved with her son to the province of Cadiz.

It was then that she began to participate in Para-Dressage competitions. To do this, a breeding in the region lent him a purebred Spanish stallion (PRE): Quincel de Valdesol. In 2019, Flore Espina joined the Swiss perspective of Para-Dressage and defended the Swiss colors for the first time at an international competition in Lisbon (POR).

For a few weeks now, Flore Espina has had the opportunity to ride a 14-year-old KWPN mare whose owner is acquired by the project of the enthusiastic Para-Dressage athlete. Training with his new Báltica de Encinasola mount is going well, this promising pair has already successfully taken part in two 3 * national competitions and has just won the Andalusian championship. Next spring, Flore and Báltica are planning two starts in international competitions which will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

The versatile sportswoman who goes beyond horseback riding, among other things, rock climbing, surfing, kayaking and cycling and who works as a model for different brands does not rebel against her past, but looks to the future with a clear objective in sight: to participate in the Olympic Games.