Bea de Lavalette
I Am US Equestrian: I Feel Free
About This Video
Horses have always been a mainstay of Bea de Lavalette's life. Her devotion to horses, and their importance in her life, was never more clear than in 2016. Bea, then 17, was caught up in a terrorist attack at the Zaventem International Airport in Brussels, Belgium, on March 22, 2016, which resulted in the loss of her lower legs, among numerous other injuries. In the months afterwards, Bea endured several surgeries and a months-long stay in an intensive care unit.
"I knew what had happened, but I couldn't fully comprehend what my life was going to look like after that point," she remembered. "My biggest thing was, was I going to be able to get back on my horse? I was severely depressed. I didn't know what life was going to look like."
Five months later, while in a rehabilitation facility at the hospital, Bea hit rock bottom. That's when her mother, Elizabeth, arranged to bring Bea's beloved mare, DeeDee, for a surprise visit to the hospital.
"That was what I needed to boost me back to life," Bea said. "Horses helped me through the accident by being there and giving me hope, which is something that I lacked a lot of. Having hope is really hard to find, and having the horses around, they give me something to thrive for."
After returning to the saddle, Bea teamed up with California-based dressage trainer and Grand Prix dressage rider Shayna Simon, who had not coached a para equestrian before. That relationship has been fruitful and helped put Bea on a path to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. "Though she never has worked with a para rider before, she is a quick study and has improved my work substantially in a short period of time," Bea wrote on her website, beaparathlete.org.
Bea made her first appearance in Wellington, Fla., during the 2019 season with DeeDee, a P.R.E. (Pure Spanish Horse) mare whose registered name is Delegada X. DeeDee is now in semi-retirement and works with other para-equestrians. With Duna, a Dutch Warmblood mare purchased in 2019, Bea made her Adequan® U.S. Para Dressage Team debut at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 3 CPEDI3* in January 2020, where she posted scores in the 70s to place second in the FEI Grade II Freestyle and help win the team competition.
In 2021, Bea qualified for the U.S. Para Dressage Paralympic Team with a new horse, Clarc, a Dutch Warmblood that she owns with her family and with whom she swept the 2021 Grade II division in the CPEDI3* at Adequan Global Dressage Festival 3.
"Every time I get picked to represent the United States, it's a big moment for me," Bea told the United States Equestrian Team Foundation. "It just shows me that I put the work in to get picked--and it's not just a gift--it's something that you really have to work towards. Even if it's just representing the United States for one show, that's a really special moment for me."
- US Equestrian's Para-Equestrian Sport page
- United States Para-Equestrian Association
- USEF International Para-Equestrian Dressage Centers of Excellence
- US Equestrian Resource Guide: Persons with Disabilities
- Para-Equestrian Dressage: How It Works
- Video: Para-Equestrian Dressage
- Video: Pathway to Para-Equestrian Dressage
- US Equestrian Announces U.S. Para Dressage Team
- Bea de Lavalette's website
- DEI Community Conversations: Harnessing Accessibility and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities
- US Equestrian DEI Resources page
About The Expert
Paralympian Beatrice de Lavalette made her Adequan U.S. Para Dressage Team debut at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) 3 CPEDI3* in January 2020. She posted scores in the 70s with Duna, the 2008 KWPN mare she owns with Elizabeth and Nicolas de Lavalette, to place second in the Grade II Freestyle and help win the team competition.
In the winter 2020/2021 season, de Lavalette debuted her new KWPN gelding, Clarc. The pair scored a 76.061 in the FEI Para Test of Choice at the Wellington Season Kickoff in January and went on to sweep the Grade II CPEDI3* at AGDF 3. De Lavalette and Clarc helped the Adequan U.S. Para Dressage Team take home a win at the AGDF 9 Perrigo CPEDI3*, finishing first in the Grade II Individual and Freestyle Tests and second in the GradeII Team Test. The pair traveled to the München-Riem CPEDI3* in Germany and finished second in the Grade II Team Test and third in the Grade II Individual and Freestyle Tests. At the Perrigo Tryon Summer Dressage CPEDI3*, de Lavalette and Clarc swept the Grade II tests.
In 2021, de Lavalette made her Paralympic debut as part of the U.S. Para Dressage Team at the pandemic-delayed 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
De Lavalette lost both of her lower legs in the 2016 bombing at the Brussels Airport in which more than 30 people were killed and 300 injured. She started riding again five months after the attack, returning to the saddle with Delegada X (“DeeDee”), the 2002 PRE mare who has been her equine partner since January 2014. De Lavalette shares her incredible story as a motivational speaker. In January 2019, she was a featured speaker at the Equestrian Businesswomen Summit in West Palm Beach, Fla. In 2020, she and trainer Shayna Simon departed Shannon and Steffen Peters’ Arroyo Del Mar to settle in the Wellington, Fla., area where they now run a high-performance dressage training facility.
Keep up with news about Bea de Lavalette at beaparathlete.org.