Para Equestrian Championships get riders with disabilities back on the horse

- There are athletes competing in pairs in Katy with sights set in going to the Summer Olympics in 2016.  One of the athletes has four good legs, the other may not even have two.

That's because it's the National Para Equestrian Championships, where the riders compete with varying disabilities.

"Horses were really the reason that I got up out of my wheelchair after my stroke," says Sydney Collier, a para equestrian from New York. "They have always given me something to aspire to."

Collier has a rare birth defect, and she says a stroke when she was 11 years old took away use of her left arm, and limits her use of her left leg. She is also seriously visually impaired. But she was riding before her stroke, and found she could ride even after it, because of dressage competition.

Dressage doesn't involve jumping.  It's the fine art of horse riding. Once riders are on their horses you can barely notice any disability. That's part of the beauty of it. It's teamwork. Just ask 6 time Para Equestrian National Champion Rebecca Hart.

"As I've gotten older I've become more confined to a wheelchair," Hart says, in Katy going for her 7th title. "The horses have been fabulous therapy, as they are for everyone. They have really kept my attitude in the right direction, and my mobility for as long as possible."

It's good therapy for the body and soul, because these riders are doing things they once thought they could never do.

"People ask me all the time, 'If you could go back and change anything, would you?' And there's nothing I would change about it," Collier says. "In the end, it's made me a stronger person and more resilient. It's made me the person I am today."
 

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