Life has been very busy around the farm this spring. So much has been going on in nearly every department that the days and events just mesh and meld into one big rolling ball of life. There are a couple of things that have been fighting their way to the top of my brain to get some attention and today I finally give two of my heroes some attention that they so deserve.
The heroes are Julien Thurrlott, one of our teenaged students and our wonderful school horse Marci. Here’s a story you are not likely to find in many other places and perhaps it deserves more prominent play in somewhere other than my little blog.
Julien is legally blind, with very limited images available in her eyesight. She’s been riding with us for a couple of years and does just an amazing job. Watching her ride, you wouldn’t know there was an issue with being able to see. This year she showed interest in trying a dressage show. We followed the FEI rules for para-dressage, placing people at each letter in the dressage arena to be “human letters.” When Julien is riding her pattern and is approaching a letter, a voice calls out “A” or “E” or whatever letter it happens to be and she is able to tell from the sound how close she is for making a decision about what she is supposed to do next. The system works really well and Julien is able execute a very nice, precise dressage test.
But the story of my heroes does not end here. Just like Julien has issues with being able to see- so does Marci. She has very little eyesight in her right eye and at times, due to a mysterious ulcerated cornea, will loose all of her eyesight in her left eye. I know the phrase, “the blind leading the blind” comes to mind here but truly both Marci and Julien can be nearly sightless.
Why would we match these two together? Well, Marci has a huge comfort zone in the dressage arena. It just seems to make sense to her. She has balance, rhythm and relaxation. This is the very foundation of dressage by classical standards. Marci is the quintessential bombproof horse. It takes a lot to rattle her and you can really trust her to be solid in her mind. Marci is a very sensitive horse, who needs hardly a whisper of information about where to go and at what speed. This works very well for the combination with Julien, because she too is highly attuned to her other senses. Riding is feeling and these two really know how to feel their way through a dressage test. Evidence: Being judged against riders with no disabilities, Julien and Marci walked away the winners in two dressage tests with scores of 65% and 68.75%.
Julien and Marci – my heroes.
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