Athletes of the week: Lori Bell and Flirt

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Photos courtesy of Lori Bell

Lori Bell, a former Huntsville resident, has had a love for horses ever since she knew what a horse was.

“I was hooked. It’s in my DNA, it’s an addiction, it’s incurable,” says Bell. She describes it as a lifetime obsession with all things equine ever since she received her first pony at the age of twelve.

Bell did not start her actual career of dressage, which is extreme horse training, until after she graduated in 1983 and bought her very first horse.

Over the years, Bell worked hard with two of her horses, training, competing and learning while growing in her new equestrian sport. Dressage is a ‘highly skilled form of riding where the horse and rider become one to perform a mastery of art movements by memory.’

In 1998, after building a family, Bell and her husband decided that it was the right time for her to take the next step in her dressage career.

“I took the plunge, quit my lucrative job and started a business importing, training and selling dressage horses,” she said.

After 20 years, Bell has perfected her ability to train, having imported more than 60 horses, training seven horses a day. One of these imported horses was a three-year-old named Flirt, which Bell purchased in 2011. Another was Rock My Lady, a.k.a. Roxie, purchased as a seven-year-old in 2014.

Both horses became success stories. Flirt has won numerous honours including being Ontario Champion at 3rd level and several championships at the advanced division at National level shows. Bell helped Roxie to progress from a 4th level horse to the advanced division.

“Our first successes showing internationally started with both horses competing at a prestigious American show, Dressage at Devon 2016. The horses placed 5th and 7th out of 43 horses,” said Bell. “The horses were listed on the National Team, placing 5th and 6th for the year in Canada.”

Lori Bell at the Dressage at Devon

Lori Bell and Flirt at the Dressage at Devon in Devon, Pennsylvania, a very prestigious show where Flirt won the Freestyle (supplied)

In 2017, Flirt began to win at the international level and was again name listed for the National Team in 7th place in Canada. Roxie moved beyond each level showing Grand Prix at National level shows. Bell explained that Grand Prix is the highest level of dressage and is the level shown at the Olympics.

In the video clip below, Flirt wins the Intermediate 1 Freestyle event at Dressage at Devon 2017. Watch Flirt’s fancy footwork timed perfectly to the music. (Video: Lori Bell / YouTube)

By 2018, Flirt had won more shows internationally earning his name on the National Team yet again and making his way to the leading spot, placing 2nd in Canada. “It was clear that both horses had big possibilities, showing talent for winning and placing being competitive in an international field…we are now declared as potential team members in the 2019 Pan American games in Lima, Peru from July 26 to August 11, 2019,” shared Bell.

Lori Bell and Flirt at the Cedar Valley CDI (Competition Dressage International) in Newmarket where he won all his classes (supplied)

Lori Bell and Flirt at the Cedar Valley CDI (Competition Dressage International) in Newmarket where he won all his classes (supplied)

It is necessary for Bell and Flirt to compete in either Florida or in Europe to be able to gain qualifying marks for the Pan Am games or the Olympics as Canada does not offer enough international level competitions to qualify.

Bell is heading to Florida this week to compete in a big international show, the Global Dressage Festival, with horses coming from Europe and Canada.

“I have not yet qualified for the Pan Am games team. Simply declared my intention at this point,” said Bell. “But I am ranked second in Canada in my division so the possibility of making the team, and even medaling, is quite good. I am also hoping to be representing Canada on a Nations Cup team while in Florida.”

Bell believes there is a very real possibility that she and her horse will make it to the 2020 Olympics, the qualification for which will occur next winter.

Thanks to Lori’s proud Huntsville family for alerting us to her success!

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