US Para Equestrian Dressage — The healing power of competition

Published by Jan Heaney on

US Para Equestrian Dressage — The healing power of competition


(Music) Dressage, to me, is basically life. It’s what I do every day. It’s what I live for. And dressage has basically allowed me to maintain my ability to walk, without it I would be in a wheelchair. Dressage is really a demonstration of very ancient training methods. A lot of the movements based around the original movements required of carry horses on the military field in war. It’s built into what some people call ballet for horses and riders. If you see professional dancers and they look beautiful that’s what you expect to see
what dressage and para-equestrian dressage is no different. It’s just dressage for people
with disabilities. Before I was born I had a stroke in the right side of my brain. That’s why I’m partially paralyzed on my left side. Para-dressage is a great way for me to be able to compete at a level where I can show what I do best. A lot of people think that para is
referring to being a paraplegic or disabled athlete what they’re actually
refers to is being parallel to able-bodied sport. So we’re held to the same high standard that the able-bodied riders are. What para-equestrian dressage gives
people is an opportunity to compete on equal terms. But show that they are every bit as
talented as their able-bodied counterparts. I do love I do love to compete, I have gotten much more used to it and much more confident in it. When I was younger, of course I wanted to play like soccer or games that children play. And I couldn’t really. I was angry. I wanted to be active, I wanted to be competitive and horses allowed me to do that. When I sat on a horse, all of a sudden I had that freedom. I wasn’t the disabled kid anymore. The horses became my legs and I was able to function like everyone else. They’re talented athletes and talented riders and and this sport gives them an opportunity to express themselves. What I want the world to know about para dressage is, that we’re here and we are not only here, we’re high-level performance athletes. My goals for this year is hopefully Rio. I feel very grateful to be able to represent the US. Its moment of I did it, I made it, I’m representing my country. There is nothing greater than that feeling. So I hope that what we will see from the US is personal bests in Rio, that’s what you always looking for. You can’t ask more than an athlete to do their personal best. In 2008 and 2012 I was super close. I was 4th, which is a tough spot to be in. And we hope to be not only at Rio deJaneiro but on that podium. Preferably the top spot. (Music)


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