For Verity Smith, riding a dressage test doesn't just require an equine teammate - she relies on many other people to audibly guide her through the arena.
Riding a dressage test is no small challenge. Not only do you have to memorize the test and perform it under pressure, but you need to communicate seamlessly with your equine partner - and they have to agree to do what you're asking. A dressage test is a culmination of years and years of training, and it's over in just minutes. But for Verity Smith, there's one additional challenge to deal with.
Verity Smith is partially sighted, and has only 10 percent of her vision. But she doesn't let that stop her. Smith is a Paralympic rider who competes in dressage - but it hasn't been an easy ride.
Before the London 2012 Paralympics, she was picking up her guide dog Uffa when she was in a pretty bad car accident. That same year she had to put her horse down and was unable to compete in the 2012 Paralympic games. Her dreams almost came to an end again in the next Olympic games.
Smith was to ride in the 2016 Rio Olympics for team GB (Great Britain), but that almost didn't happen as well because of the International Paralympic Committee and International Equestrian Federation "Blindfold Rule," requiring all visually impaired and blind riders to wear blindfolds during competition in order to create a level playing field. Smith uses what little vision she has for both spatial awareness and balance when she rides. She fought the dangerous rule with the help of social media and won when the blindfold ruling was overturned in November of 2016.
Every dressage test is an act of teamwork between horse and rider, but Smith's test requires a slightly larger team to execute. See dressage rider Verity ride a beautiful test with the help of her entire team in the video below.
As Smith rides, you can hear her team members calling out the letters of the arena so that Smith can tell where she is and where she needs to travel next. It's an amazing display of teamwork, determination, and skill.
Verity Smith is proof that when you're truly determined to achieve your dream, nothing will ever stop you from doing it.
What is your ultimate riding goal? What are you doing to work toward it? Tell us in the comments below.
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