On Christmas Eve – some gifts are of a different nature: The determined Bettina Eistel and her very special horse, Fabuleax 5.

I was thinking about Christmas and presents and Christmas lists – and then I thought of this story… and it seemed more appropriate for this time of giving.

Originally posted in 2010.

I saw this photo today and it took a while for my brain to register what I was seeing…  Take a look.

Look closely…

Yup.  No arms.  Her name is Bettina Eistel and her horse is Fabuleax 5.

What is even more compelling than the fact that she can brush her horse with her feet, is that she competes, very well, at the Paralympics in dressage.

Bettina didn’t just overcome her disability, she walloped it!

(Kinda makes me feel ridiculous for complaining about anything having to do with just about anything…)



Thalidomide.  (I wanted to read her book but it isn’t translated into English and I cannot read German.  I wonder if a Kindle could translate it?…)  Anyway, she was born in 1961 in Germany, with no arms due to the drug, Thalidomide.

Her book

What is Thalidomide?  Thalidomide was a drug they gave pregnant women before it was known that it caused birth defects…  Hence, Bettina was born without any arms.

When I was too little to understand manners, I can remember my mother telling me not to stare at kids I would see who had birth defects.   She would shake her head and just whisper, “Thalidomide”.   I remember being very appreciative that I didn’t have that kind of a birth defect.



Bettina doesn’t let her disability stop her.  After all, this way of being is all she has ever known…

As an aside, another disabled Olympian was explaining the difference between being born with a disability versus being born “whole” and acquiring the disability.  This concept is an interesting topic.  You probably can come to some of your own conclusions here.

Bridling… look at him drop his head.

Anyway, as a small child, Bettina learned how to use her feet and toes as her hands and fingers.  As a youngster, she started in horseback riding lessons.  (Thank goodness her parents supported her and let go of their fears around this.) She wears riding boots with cut-outs in the toes so she can have ‘hands’ (imagine how cold her toes must get … and how often they clip a branch or a fence board – ouch!).  She can saddle, bridle, hose down, wrap, blanket and do just about anything else that is needed for her horse.  And, she rides by steering with her legs and holding the reins in her mouth.  IN HER MOUTH.  Try that… I tried to hold my brush in my mouth while braiding my girl’s hair and I ended up drooling all over the place in about a minute.  I have no idea how she does it.  Amazing.

Oh, and besides all those horse riding feats, she can text, write and put on mascara with her toes!

Hmmmm.  I’m starting to feel sheepish for complaining about anything…

They say Bettina is a master at hose water fights!

“After highschool in 1979, Bettina studied the History of Art, Archaeology and Ethnology in Hamburg, followed by an eight-year study of psychology. During her psychology studies, she  participated in a project with Hamburg’s home for children. In 1989 she completed her studies with a diploma and has since worked as a graduate psychologist in a Hamburg counseling center for children and family therapy.”


I really couldn’t find much information on her coaching (Her coach Franz-Martin Stankus) or how she learned to ride.  But, I did find out that she:

“Eistel was formerly Vice-Europe and Vice World Champion (two silver and bronze at the European Championships in Portugal in 2002 and three silver at the World Championships in Belgium in 2003) and won two silver and one bronze medal at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens , she won also three times the German championship.  As the most recent successes are the bronze medal in the required tasks of the individual competition and the silver medal in the team standings at the 2008 Paralympics in Hong Kong.”

Not bad even for a girl WITH arms…

With her dressage medal


You have to really think about the kind of horse who would let this kind of a rider be his partner.  Really… what temperament is needed to perform at high level dressage as well as take care of a disabled rider?  Wow.  I wish I knew if they looked high and low for him… or if they simply trained a good horse to understand this rider?  (I need to read her book.)  I mean, did they find a horse and say to him that this is the way we are going to do it now?  Or, does the Fabuleax 5 ‘know’?  I often hear that certain horses are much more gracious with disabled riders than with regular riders.  I know that my Gwen is much nicer to children than to me… I wonder how that happens?  Is it the horse or the quality/feel/spirit of the disabled rider/child that effects the horse?  Dunno.

Taking a treat from Mom

Bettina says she trained her horse via voice commands, head movement and leg aids.  Funny, I bet hardly any of us would think it was even possible to ride a horse without arms.

From where I sit, I would like to be in the presence of  the wonderful Fabuleax 5.  He is a saint in my book.  Fabuleax lets Bettina ride him in the only way she can… with the reins in her teeth and the other set of reins between her toes.  And, he does his job.  Simple.  Gosh.  Impressive.

If you notice in the photos, he lowers his head to be bridled and to be brushed.  Atta boy!

Beautiful boy


Bettina also landed a gig as a Talk Show Host.  With a weekly show on German TV station ZDF, Bettina is something of a media star.  They say her popularity is because of her engaging and optimistic personality… but one cannot ignore her amazing ability to do everything, literally everything, with her feet..

Bettina as talk show host


Her website (linked here)  is in German… Babelfsh can translate for you.  On her home page, on the bottom right corner is a word “Kontakt” which mean Contact.  You can email her there.


I wanted to bring this story to you because I think sometimes we give up too easily.  Or maybe it is just me… maybe I think I give up too easily or don’t push through my/my horse’s issues or don’t get over myself/my fears or don’t put as much effort/time into training my horses as I could.  Reading about Bettina was a good shot in the arm for me…

I sure don’t feel like making any excuses or complaining…

I cannot even imagine folding the laundry with my feet, let alone living 24 hours without my hands.  Wow.  Very inspirational.

What a great team!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

145 comments have been posted...

  1. Brian Richardson

    I am in the process of writing a children’s book about a modern day cowboy/rancher in Arizona. One of the chapters is about a young girl born with no arms, fashioned after someone I encountered at a summer camp in Arizona decades ago. I would like to gain information from Ms. Eistel of her earliest experiences in learning how to care and ride horses, and early thoughts and conveyances by those around her.
    The only social media I have access to is email, which I will provide below.
    Thanks for your help.

  2. Paige

    omg can i have him !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Paige

    I LOVE YOU´RE HORSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    you are an inperashen to me i? 11 years old and have a pony named Misty she is 4 years old and is a bit mistif and sneky but i ceep going. Becouse if you can do it than i have to elest try and do it.

  4. dawndi Post author

    I hear your viewpoint, which is valid, but I respectfully disagree. This post is 5 years old and has been passed around FB and the
    internet over a million times. It has been viewed daily since it was written. We even had to close down the ‘comments’ because there were so many inspired and enthusiastic readers who wished to reply.
    I doubt this article has hurt the cause or degraded Bettina in the ways you suggest. In fact, she has given us her nod.

  5. Mary McLaurine

    Horses do not see disabiity. You say, “I wish I knew if they looked high and low for him… or if they simply trained a good horse to understand this rider? (I need to read her book.) I mean, did they find a horse and say to him that this is the way we are going to do it now?” You have to really think about the kind of horse who would let this kind of a rider be his partner.” Trust me when I tell you he isn’t “doing his job” or “letting” her ride him. I find your terminology “this kind of rider” kind of condescending. I have been around horses, owned horses, taught riding, pretty much devoted my life to horses and have seen riders with no disabilities ride and treat horses horribly. There is no “type” of rider. The bond between horse and human is far deeper than that. Horses are healers by nature. This is why their work with PTSD and people dealing with any kind of emotional or physical trauma is so successful. They didn’t have to look “high and low” for him or say to him “this is the way we are going to do it now”. A horse instinctively knows what a person and rider need and will not respond if the person is not ready (or unless the horse is forced to) emotionally to commit to the relationship. Thier bond is so strong because she knows no differently nor does her horse. They only know their bond and that they trust each other completely and will do anything for the other.

    Both are amazing creatures buy to me, your writing seems to come from a place of kindness but also a place of ignorance and I use that word with no intent to insult. You sound so shocked and surprised that a person with no arms could accomplish so much when in fact, as I said, she knows no different. She is a strong, determined woman just like any woman of accomplishment. I know you speak from your heart and wrote from a place of admiration and astonishment but by saying things like, “IN HER MOUTH!” it is, in a way, demeaning for it implies that it is something short of miraculous and kind of shouts, ‘wow, this really limited person can do all this stuff with no arms, wow wee’! Why wouldn’t she be able to do these things? Does not having arms put her in a category of people that we should be astounded by because they overcome their disability? Don’t sound so surprised. People with all kinds of disabilities do incredible things with their lives and by implying it is something so unusual diminishes their accomplishements. Just my opinion. It is a lovely story, I would have just liked to have seen it presented from a viewpoint of – of course she can do this, of course her horse responds in kind and maybe we could learn more from the two of them than “Gee, I sure am glad I’m not disabled. Thank goodness for that! I could never do what she does!” Why? Why couldn’t you? It’s a limited viewpoint.

  6. Cyndi HarpI

    Every time I get out of hand and feeling sorry for myself I stop and think about how blessed I am. There is always someone out there that is in much worse shape than me. I have so much, a loving husband of 40 years! I have healthy beautiful grown daughters. I have a home and food and clothes. Everything else is just gravy as they say. Look around and count your blessings. If your life has challenges change your life. No one can do it but you and it is possible. Blessings to you all.

  7. jose marquez


  8. Izzie

    Any news about whether her book is in English yet? Or if she’s written another one or is still competing?

  9. Laura Lewis

    I’m dealing with my own horse fears that are keeping me from riding. Feel kind of silly after reading this. Yes you should post it once a year and yes indeed I would love to read her book. Need to pressure amazon maybe for a translation? Thank you for posting.

  10. Birgit Schueller

    Thank you so much for blogging about Bettina Eistel.
    I have heard and read quite a few reports about her and her fellow teammates on the German dressage team.
    Riding dressage myself (as a hobby and with all limbs intact), stories like this show us how stupid most of our everyday complaints are. Embracing life (the translation of her book’s title) – that’s what most people tend to forget…
    Again, thank you for reminding us!

  11. nicki vincent

    Someone posted a picture of Bettina on face book and I had to follow up and find her , I ‘m sooooooo overwhelmed with her, i had to post her story on face book so everyone can see what a fantabulous person she is

  12. peter howard

    We can all learn something here,and be happy with our lot.stop complaining and just get non with it.

  13. Melissa Ellen

    Hi, this is Cheyenne and Melissa in Mrs.Scotten’s English class. For the remainder of the year we will be working on the Heroes project. We have chosen Bettina Eistel as our hero. We would love to get in contact with her and talk to her via Skype or phone. We would really love it if you coiuld contact us. Thank you (:

  14. Craig

    My 7 year old daughter Mailie found this article whilst researching a school project on Paralympians, we both found the story behind the “athlete” really inspiring. Having learnt to ride herself she knows just how difficult it is and therefore marvels at Bettina.

  15. Julie Horton

    Truly inspirational! You are beautiful Bettina…not because of wot u do but who you are….we all have losses in some way and have to deal with life the best we can …you prove that in more ways than one and show us the reason to never give up xx thanx xxxx

  16. R Freemyer

    Bettina, I wish I could write in German how you have made me feel. I do no have any physical handycaps, but you are such an inspiration to all who learn about you. You are a most amazing person and along with Fabuleaux are a so well matched team. Bless you both

  17. RiderWriter

    I have heard about Bettina before and am still astounded at what she has accomplished. I, too, would love to read her book; I wonder if an English version is planned? And speaking of the book, did you notice the horse on the cover is not Fableaux 5? Interesting.

  18. Carol

    THANK YOU!!! Having been down on myself for the last few weeks with feelings of unworthyness, this has shown me the “what the hell do I have to feel sorry about?” stage of the game. An inspiration to many I’m sure but thank you for bringing it to the light. So many people take so much for granted, like I’ve been doing, they never stop to think about the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘be greatful fors’ in life.

  19. winterlady

    I have joined the site just recently but this is my first look at the forums, recommended by my daughter….so I looked her up on youtube and you can see her ride…what a woman I refuse to be afraid and nervous anymore !!!!!1

  20. winterlady

    Ive just joined the group not long ago but this is my first look at the forums, My daughter reccommended I look at this thread and I loved it …Bettina is truly a wonderful soul connected to a wonderful soul in her horse. I have looked her up on youtube and you can watch her ride


    horses heal people, people need horses, horse give people hope, love and they have the ability to heal people with a soft nudge of their nose

  22. Chris R

    I have been looking all over on line & in book stores to see if I can buy her book in english. Or for a kindle. Would love to read it but can’t get any info on if it comes in english.
    Just looking at the photos of what she has done should make us all feel we can do anything we put our minds to.

  23. catherine swanson

    thany you to my sister pattie for sending this to me. one more thing to help put my depression in its place. this is a talented and beautiful strong woman. what amazing parents.

  24. Joyce

    This is an amazing story!! She has mastered more than anyone with both hands, I enjoyed this story and it gets me motivated to do more.

  25. Mary

    God bless this woman and her horse. What an inspiring story for all of us.

  26. Enigmaticaluna

    I read some time ago that a woman with cancer, was ridding her horse, and he “knew” that she has a tumor, the jump the horse did to change it’s course, save her life. Animals are not just our companions, they have a sense that we don’t, I have a Siamese cat, that knew when bad weather was coming, and was very uneasy, or earthquake, as I live back them in California. We are the ones handicap, it’s not the body that allow us to do anything, but the spirit that we embrace to ride us in this wonderful world of ours. She’s amazing none the less, and what others see as handicap I see as a blessing, because she’s teaching others, endurance, commitment, dedication, faith, spirit, responsibility and the ability to reach the sky, because we believe in ourselves… she’s a blessing to many… God bless her and us for having such example of courage.

  27. Greg

    My daughter just turned three yesterday, when my wife was around three months pregnant we found out our daughter would have no arms. Reading a story like this is hard to put into words what it means to us, our daughter is doing well and we are adjusting everyday and learning what is the best way to do things for her. Its also very nice to read such postive comments, we do worry alot about her, but it comes from the great love we have for her. I quit my job to stay home with her and enjoy being there for her .

  28. Jessica

    Truly inspiring! This is an uplifting, remarkable story. I love that she didn’t let her unfortunate situation hold her back in any way from doing what she wanted! This just goes to show that we should NEVER make excuses when we want something badly enough. Thank you for sharing this!

  29. sarah

    What an incredible story! Very inspiring! I truly want to read the book.

  30. Sandy

    This story is beyond amazing – beyond inspiring!! It certainly makes one stop and think. What a lovely lady. Bettina and Fabuleax 5 go beyond the usual theory of “team”, “team work” and “partners”. May they continue to go forward in love. Gods Blessings to them.

  31. Loretta

    What an amazing woman and a lovely horse. I would also love to read her book. I hope someone can see a story in this and has it published in English…

  32. amador fowler

    Wow! A truly amazing woman and horse team. She really has no disability, due to the fact that Bettina was born with no arms and had to overcome what some of us would consider a large obstacle and that Bettina has had to use her feet, since she was able to begin learning how to use them as her primary appendages. With the great love and support from her parents, family and friends, she has shown many people that what we see and consider a disability does not render a person disabled. She has great courage, strength and love, that has inspired many of us to see and believe that what we think maybe a difficult or impossible task is only an obstacle in which our minds create.

    What a true, awe inspiring life story.
    Thanks for sharing
    You’re awesome Bettina…well done

  33. Lydia

    i’d be afraid the horse would bite off one of my toes while feeding it a treat. aren’t u supposed to have the treat in an open hand so that doesn’t happen.. with fingers. ??



  35. rose bowe

    wow!! amazing… look up my brother george utley on you tube!! he too is amazing! you are a inspiration to all!! :)

  36. Dayla Bowhay

    you are the most coolest person that i know about!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. Marie Ferrell

    What an amazing accomplishment to overcome such an obstacle as having no arms! Truly an inspiration. I am truly humbled, and thank GOD for all the blessings He’s given me. May He especially watch over Betinna as she continues to pursue her dreams.

  38. Shelby Walls

    What a beautiful young wom with an indominatable spirit. She is an inspiration to all of us and especially to those with handicaps demonstrating anything is possible if you choose to try it…..no, not try it; do it. She is remarkable and I am so blessed to have read this. Thank you for sharing with all of us. Shelby

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  40. Donna Lapierre

    She is so inspiring! I love the combination of the personalities! I plan to copy this and hang it in my barn for all of the riders that don’t think they can get their horse ready or ride with having the use of their arms…

  41. frances camacho

    How inspiring and encouraging! I have to share this story to the kids in church. God definitely has something to do with the courage Bettina has….

  42. Diane Martin

    What an inspiring story, especially for today’s youth, that seem to need so much help, even with two arms and legs!
    This such a wonderful message to everyone

  43. JenG

    I would say to the author of this blog that perhaps learning German in order to read her book would be a fitting tribute, and a small price to pay.

  44. Rita Neal

    What an amazing woman! I have personally know people affected by the drug Thalidamide. Interestingly enough, they, too, were positive over achievers, never letting their disabilities get them down for long. Thank you for sharing your wonderful achievements! You are an inspiration to the rest of us!

  45. Mary Ann Kennedy

    what a beautiful story of …if you love enough..you can overcome your weaknesses and live and love the way you want to…celebrate your passions
    i am overwhelmed ..awestruck..i say to myself..and think of the excuses i have ona BUSY DAY…to not ride..come on..what kick in the pants to JUST DO IT ! and thank GOD and the universe..and your HORSE !!! for giving you this gift of life..and a true passion.
    GO BETINNA AND FAB ! a love story
    Mary Ann Kennedy
    maker of music for horse lovers :)

  46. Helen Baughn

    I too, was born without arms, but in 1934, so am not a thalidomide baby. At that time there was no drugs or other reason . When at the age of three, I asked my Mother, she told me “God wanted a little girl with no arms, and He chose you.” For many years I felt special, until I realized everyone is.
    I have four older sisters, and two younger brothers. We attended school in a small town; and I do not remember ever being teased. After graduation, I went to a small Women’s college with Sociology major and minor in art. Didn’t do too well there as I was having too much fun. I worked for a few years in recreation at a State Hospital for disabled children; was married in 1960, had a son in 1962, separated in 1963, then divorced, so raised him pretty much on my own.
    In 1970 I had the opportunity to go back to college where I earned an MBA in Speech Pathology. I performed much better this time as my son was depending on me.
    Now retired, my work with all age groups, from advising parents of infants to folks in their 90’s, was most rewarding. However; I was unable to teach sign language as my toes were too short, I have lived alone for the last 18 or so years. Although I needed help with some tasks ie: washing/painting walls, hanging drapes, I took care of all household tasks until hip surgery prevented some activities.
    I wish Bettina all Blessings throughout her life.

  47. Valorie Fischer

    I am in awe. The article and pictures are awesome, but the true story tugs at my heart strings. It is a lesson, I hope to not forget too soon! Thank you very much for sharing this!

  48. Elise Daniel

    I loved this article!! I have seen Bettina photos before relating to the para Olympics. She is a true inspiration and a reminder that Life is Good. No problems that come our way are insurmountable and Bettina knows that better than anyone!!

    Thanks for sharing it.

  49. dale t wilson

    A remarkable story of human-animal partnership demonstrating courage, empathy and love by each.

  50. Celine Graindlair

    C’est vraiment extraordinaire, je n’en crois pas mes yeux, je la félicite pour son courage et sa détermination.

    Translation from my college French memory of long ago: This is truly extrodinary! I cannot believe my eyes! I congratulate her for her courage and determination.

  51. Janet "Z"

    What an inspiration !!! Bettina & Fabuleux 5 may you continue to inspire and challenge others that Anyone Can Do Anything and that the determination, love, and respect one has for the other will continue to bring you both the healing and delight you each appear to receive from your time together.

  52. Kari

    Once on a horse’s back, a truly good rider needs only the aids of leg, seat and balance to communicate everything with the horse. So it’s not her riding that I find so inspiring. It’s her courage and tenacity in taking on what is in every way a challenging and potentially dangerous sport to even those without any physical limitations. She and her horse are willing and trusted partners, and I applaud the harmonious example they so beautifully present.

  53. marilyn quinnell

    Wow, I think if someone has trouble with seat this would be the person to ask for help. I bet she doesn’t have to worry about having a strong core. We could all learn from this.

  54. helen

    Very powerful and heartfelt story I wish both of them all the best and many many years together hopefully the book will some day be printed in English I too would love to read it

  55. Tenis

    Larry King once wisely declared, “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” That’s totally how I feel. I am grateful to have learned something new today. – Tenis

  56. tracy

    It makes you appreciate what you do have. It also makes you let your children explore you never know how far they may go.

  57. Judy

    As director of an equestrian therapy program I have seen many miracles involving horses and riders with special needs. But this story is so extraordinary it moved me to tears. There are certain horses who appear to be born to minister. I have seen that these amazing animals can offer a specific healing solution for virtually challenge a rider might have. You can see it in Her horse’s eyes. It’s just beautiful.

  58. Edith

    This is a most inspiring young lady! I am in total awe of her accomplishments!

    What a way to persevere and do what she obviously loves to do!

    Congratulations Bettina!

  59. Edie

    Praise the Lord, this young girl has the courage to continue, with her Horse, which makes her life more exciting.

  60. Ethel

    I am amazed and encouraged to read this. Having been into horses all of my life, and recently diagnosed with cancer requiring chemo and radiation… This story, uplifted me.
    Thanks for putting it out there…. and keep up the great work. What a marvelous team of horse and rider. That horse must never leave its rider…. Never…

  61. Anona Holgate

    AMAZING GRACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    You and your horse are a beautiful inspiration!

    Warm regards

    The girls and ponies from Beulah Farm, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada

  62. Rob Karnuth

    After reading and seeing these photo images, I am impressed as a Professional Photographer…And I have L5S1 lower back issues. I am so grateful that this woman can do things with her feet. Extremely impressive and if I am down and or depressed, this is the LIFT I need to be inspired by a TRUE WINNER. WOW!!!! Anybody having a hard time in their personal life hopefully can be moved by hese images. Photography images tell alot about people and nature, animals.

  63. Deb

    I think you give Fabuleaux 5 too much credit and Bettina not enough. Her mastery of riding and creativity in using her feet as hands is incredible to say the least, but I suspect it is her riding ability and much, much more than just a generous horse.

    All Bettina has known is how to use her hands as feet, so I’m sure she handles the reins with her toes (I see she also uses a whip!) with all the skill that the rest of us can with our hands. It looks like her mouth is just to create a proper pivot point – like using a martingale.

    I do agree that it takes a certain personality type in a horse to be calm and generous in grooming and handling (lowering his head and accepting the bridle without fuss, for example), but I bet if/when Fabuleaux 5 misbehaves under saddle – as all horses can and will do from time to time – that Bettina is able to handle him with as much skill as any other accomplished rider.

  64. Grace Huang

    Bettina and her boy Fabuleax 5 are amazingly impressed. Not only the passion but the team work truly a great example to all of us.

  65. Kim Keppick

    As a trainer of serious amateur riders you are an inspiration to us all. Thank you and I wish you continueing success.
    Best regards,
    Kim Keppick

  66. Beth

    How beautiful! Another example of how God works miracles and how special the human bond can be with horses.

  67. Rosemarie Hargett

    One of my brother in Germany has a girlfriend with short arms due to Thalidomide. I am always amazed of her capability to do what other people find to be normal. But I have to take my hat off to Bettina and her beautifull horse Fabulaux 5. These two together are like a fairytale and I have my thumbs up for them.

  68. Karen

    Wow, a perfect example of the determination of the human spirit combined with the spirit of the horse. What can be better than that?

  69. Bruce Buskirk

    What an incredible lady to be so accomplished with the tools God gave her to use. Fabulaux 5 is also a magnificent trusted and trusting friend and partner. They are truly an inspirational team whose accomplishments we should all aspire to achieve.

  70. Joanne Rigutto

    What an extraordinary woman and horse! Truely inspiring. Next time I’m faced with a challenge that looks impossible, I’ll think of Bettina and Fabelaux 5.

  71. marian reidelbach

    this is such a beautiful story! Bettina is an extroidinary woman. What an inspiration for us all. What a neat relationship between horse and man. mrian reidelbach.

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  73. irene gentile

    just amazing! my hat is off to bettina and fabulouex 5. keep inspiring all of us!

  74. Melissa gillmore

    Amazing! What great communication these two have. I wish I communicated 1/10th as well with my horse.

  75. jay hughes

    What is possible overcomes what is impossible once again. Great story and great accomplishment. Looking forward to seeing more in the future.


  76. Gay H

    This is truly not only a wonderful story of an extrodinary woman but one of what desire, guts , sheer determination and perseverence for time and time I am sure Bettina had to rise above obstacles that many of us would chose to avoid. . She has accomplished a level of horsemanship that most of us only dream of.

    There are two things I would like to know as a retired professional horsewoman:

    What breed is Fabuleax 5 and how did Bettina find a coach that would take on the dauting project of coaching her ? This man needs to write his autobiography too !
    I have worked with riders who are just timid and fearful and that is itself a challenge. I don’t think the non-rider who reads Bettina’s story can fathom what she has accomplished but can only admire her for where she is in life. ..which is enough .

  77. JoBeth

    You amaze me. I was born without arms 67 years ago & do everything with my feet. But I wil not even get close to a horse or anything that big. I feel like I can’t get away from them fast enogh if I had to because they’re so big. I did go horseback riding once & fell off so I guess that’s part of the reason I’m so afraid of them. They are beautiful though, especially your & you. I love these pictures of you with your horse.

  78. Zane

    “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet. ” -Anonymous

  79. Linda

    So inspirational. I teach and run a therapeutic riding facility so I know how much riding can mean to persons with a disability. But you are right, she walloped it!
    Thank you for writing about such a remarkable woman.

  80. William M. Otto

    To me the import of the accomplishments of Bettina is that she did not let an anomaly become a disability. I admire her will to achieve, her creativity to work around potential problems and defeat them, and her obvious developed skill in riding as witnessed by her awards. Her ability to communicate with her horse demonstrates a sensitivity that is all too rare in us humans.

  81. Dick Kimberley

    First, her accomplishments are indeed outstanding – irrespective of any physical “disability” or not. I have had the opportunity to work with and watch “disabled” skiers at the international para-olympic level, and the term “disabled” simply doesn’t apply. Many of these folks can kick my butt on the mountain any day of the week (and on my best and their worst day)! But what I think the author (and many lay people) is really trying to say is that many of us woe, bemoan, and make excuses as to why we “can’t” do whatever – or we tend to blame it on something other than ourselves – “THAT horse just won’t listen to me!”. So, when encountering a woman (or man, or boy, or girl) who is succeeding in a chosen endeavor while doing so with a “disability”, it causes one to reevaluate one’s self and realize how petty some of our own issues can be. That is not meant to be a condescending attitude but more one of admiration. And, I understand how after years of such comments, it becomes tiresome and irritating to continually hear such comments instead of being acknowledged simply as an INDIVIDUAL who has done well, but I truly believe most people are trying to say the right thing from their heart, but unfortunately focus on the wrong point. As far as the “other” horse on the book cover, I have a very good friend who wrote, “The Joy of Running” many years ago. He is still incensed that the publishers insisted (over his objections) on putting two photogenic models on the cover – and they are not even running properly!! Such things happen in the world of publishing books for profit. I don’t know, but would not be surprised if some marketing wizard with the publishing company had her pose with this horse because it was “more eye catching” without her even knowing that it would end up being the cover shot for the book. Maybe not, maybe it’s her other horse – but either way, please don’t let a photograph override her message. As for the author’s lack of horsemanship – I sure as heck don’t know any riders who can ride with no hands and have trained and developed the trust and communication with their equine (I ride mules) that they can ride at this level of equitation. Don’t care what your physical attributes may or may not be, if you can ride this well, my hat’s off to you. And yes, the rest of us who haven’t reached that level of skill with our animals will be duly impressed. I found this to be an excellent story with great photographs and a great message suggesting what any person can do with the will and determination. The fact it involves the horse world makes it even more appreciative after many years of watching riders who continually blame their animal for the lack of communication between the two.

  82. Carla

    What an inspiration she is. I just couldn’t imagine. Her love for her horse must run very deep. We are all so spoiled. This really makes me appreciate what I have. What a great story.

  83. dawndi Post author

    Carol says:
    I’m afraid this is going to seem nasty, and I am going to try to write it as politely as possible…but this is a really condescending story and I seriously hope Ms. Eistell does not come across it, or if she does, that she is not able to read English. Please seek out a source of info about disability awareness and reconsider the tone of your writing. It is great to be supportive of this athlete, but it is not really great to condescend like this. There are many, many people who achieve great things despite disabilities, and I think the great majority of them would prefer to be honored for their achievement, rather than for their “inspirational nature”. I personally spend a lot of time cycling with people with disabilities…and I can tell you they HATE It when people gush about how inspirational they are. We make a big joke out of those comments, but I know my friends would just prefer the people keep their comments to themselves, b/c although they make fun to deal with the discomfort, they would prefer to be treated with respect.

    Just as a suggestion…try rewriting the article as if you were impressed by the rider as a woman…I have a feeling it will sound really condescending to you…I’m sure you don’t think you are an exception as a competent woman (which I’m sure you are).

  84. H Ann Bennett

    I was a senior in high school when Bettina was born. Thanks to people like her, my daughter was born without birth defects a year and a half later. I am so very grateful and immensely inspired by this woman’s accomplishments.

  85. Felecia

    This is an amzing story and so touching. For me the bond between horse and rider is like no other. I love my dogs so dearly but it is so diiferent than with my horse and to see the connection between these too is so awesome! It is a spiritual experience.

  86. sarah

    my mother was offered thalidomide when she was pregnant with me. She refused it. A very inspirational story.

  87. Pingback: Don't complain for there are people far worse that have overcome incredible odds.

  88. Jeannie

    But there for the Grace of God go I……….Just amazing and my hat off to her. Makes me ashamed when I think I sometimes complain about silly little thing’s. Makes me sit up and realize how lucky I am to have 2 arms and also how special she is to accomplish, regardless of her situation. Wonder ful Forever Bud’s….

  89. Virginia

    Humbling and inspiring. I will read this every time I feel challenged.

  90. Elizabeth

    Wow, what an amazing,inspirational story & team. I look forward to reading the book when it is translated to english.

  91. Dave Frothinger

    Fantastic lady and horse. No doubt an amazing lady and the horse and love for it helped her grow/develop more in just a love for life and shows what a person is capable of. And it also takes a special horse to help do this. Thanks

  92. Faye Wood

    She is a very determined and amazing person. The horse is incredible too.

  93. Lorelei Jones

    As a child of twelve or so, I had a friend who had no legs, but had metal prostheses, and she rode a red roan/buckskin mare named Niad. I was so impressed with her ability to ride bareback. There is another lady in this area, Ramona, that is paralyzed below the waist and does a lot of trail riding and showing in a wheelchair. Her dad fitted a horse trailer for her, and she and her dog and horse go anywhere they want. I met her as a helper to get her horse to lie down so she could get on if she got stuck on the trail away from her normal mounting block. Lots of courage these ladies have. I try not to let asthma hamper my horse activities along with my age of 71, but my inability to breathe is small compared to what these ladies do.

  94. Jess

    Inspiring…and so much leg work..she must have incredible abs/obliques XD

  95. Dr Dori

    Ms. Eistel is definitely an inspiration. She has certainly not allowed anything to hold her back. However I am disappointed in the author’s lack of horsemanship. I have a good friend of mine who is a working cowboy and claims to be lazy because he bridles all his horses from a chair. In reality he is just teaching his horses to respect and accept the bridle. All horses should be able to be bridled from your knees. I will admit that I still have a bit of work to do with one of my horses. Also, my dressage instructor constantly reminds me that as long as you work with what is comfortable for your horse, you can teach anything to be a cue. Horses are extremely sensitive and responsive livestock and they constantly listen to our every body position change. You could cue you horse to canter simply by nodding your head or ask for a halt by deeply exhaling. It just takes consistency and patience.

  96. Cynde Cooley

    An amazing story. I found myself in tears thinking about the connection she and her horse have.

  97. Susan Howland

    Wow! Very inspiring. I think I was meant to read this tonight. I want to help and I’m concerned about our returning military and their families. My daughter rides dressage and also
    Works with handicapped children and therapeutic riding. Dressage seems like a great addition to the special olympics. I love the sensitivity of horses.
    Full moon/total lunar eclipse tonight-3:00 AM EST. Opportunity of a lifetime. Last time this happened on the night of the winter solstice was 1648. Set alarms

  98. Linda

    Wow, I’m so glad you posted this, what a fabulous woman & horse!!

  99. Fran Smith

    Never again will I complain about anything pertaining to my riding; ability; or lack, thereof. This woman does not know that she is “handicapped” and neither does her horse. Praise God. That’s what I have to say about this.
    fran smith/ arizona

  100. Bobbie Jo Loomis - Wells

    WOW….WOW….and WWWWOOOOWWW!!! I am humbled and amazed and feel blessed to have just SEEN such an amazing lady with such amazing spirit, persistence, beauty and passion! I will forever be changed by what I saw on these pages tonight. My excuses for EVERYTHING have been laid to rest one final time watching her attack her dreams the way she has! Soo beautiful….BRAVO!!

  101. Diana B

    Who is the horse standing behind her on the book cover? Clearly it is not the same horse she is riding in the other photos.

  102. Gary

    Bettina and her horse just proves that:If you want to do anything bad enough all you need to do is keep trying and do not ever give up. Thank you Bettina for being such an inspiration to us all especially those of of us that own and ride our own horses.

  103. Barbara Morrison

    i can’t use anymore excuses like it’s too much effort to saddle a horse and go for a ride. Her story inspires me get off my duff and really enjoy the horses I have!!!

  104. Anne Beggs

    Such an inspiration. It is always a pleasure to see such a smile and the bond between human and horse, and all other life. thanx for sharing, as I have done on fb.

  105. dawndi Post author

    I know she has two horses. The other is Aaron. However, I cannot find any photos of Aaron from the front so that I can match the blaze.

  106. Donna

    Amazing to say the least. I read the entire story and gazed at the pictures in awe. She is truely an amazing lady with something to teach all of us. We can do anything we put our minds to. Loved the article.

  107. Ann Buchanan

    That is not Fabuleaux on the (2nd) book cover. Bummer. No mention of this horse? SHe has two? The caption reads “What a great team”? Whats that story?

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