Profile: Natasha Baker
Date of Birth: 30/12/1989
Birthplace: Hammersmith, London, England
Career: – Present
Natasha Baker was born into a equine loving family. Her mother rode competitively in jumping and eventing. At 14 months old, she contracted transverse myelitis, an inflammation in her spine that affected her nerve endings. This means, she was left with weakness and no feeling in her legs.
She was first put on a horse at six months old at the Riding for the Disabled School in South Buckinghamshire, England. Natasha started riding due to her physiotherapists belief that horse riding would help to strengthen her muscles. By the age of 9, she was riding competitively at her local RDA. Aged 10, she watched the 2000 Summer Paralympics and decided she wanted to compete in the Paralympics.
As she lacks strength in her legs she trains her horses to respond to voice commands as well as to tiny saddle movements. This has earnt her the nickname, ‘Horse Whisperer’. She competes in the grade II Paralympic classification.
In 2002, Natasha was selected for the World Class Programme and by 2005 had a string of National and International titles to her name including the Overall U21 International Champion. One of the most defining moments of her career came in 2009, when she discovered her mount Cabral at the yard of Christian Landolt. Together, Natasha and Cabral developed a unique bond, leading to a succession of international honours.
In 2011 she made her first appearance at a senior championships, competing at the European Championships held in Moorsele, Belgium, where she won gold medals in both the individual and freestyle grade II events.
She was selected as part of the dressage squad for Great Britain at the 2012 Summer Paralympics held in London. In the individual championship test grade II event Baker, riding Cabral, an 11-year-old gelding, scored 76.857% to set a new Paralympic record for the grade II classification and win the gold medal ahead of German defending champion Britta Napel who won silver with a score of 76.000%. She won her second gold medal of the Games in the individual freestyle test grade II. She set a new Paralympic record of 82.800% as she beat second placed Napel by over 5%.
She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to equestrianism.
At the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games Natasha won a remarkable three Gold medals, one in each of the events she competed in; Individual, Freestyle and Team Gold!
2012 Summer Paralympics – 2 gold medals
2016 Summer Paralympics – 3 gold medals
Her lucky mascot is her Skye Terrier dog called Poppy.
She doesn’t suffer from competition nerves because she loves competing so much.
Her favourite RDA pony was called Forrester.
Away from horses, Natasha loves shopping!