Verity Smith is an accomplished equestrian. But she only has 10 percent vision.
She's been legally blind since the age of 16 due to a rare genetic condition, but that hasn't stopped her from competing in dressage at the highest levels. She currently rides on Great Britain’s Para Team, but she also competes against able-bodied athletes in Prix St. George, the Horse Collaborative reports — the highest level ever achieved by a blind rider in Britain.
Her goal is to represent her country at the 2016 Paralympics, but a recent ruling by the International Paralympic Committee and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) may stop her in her tracks.
The rule requires all blind dressage riders to wear blindfolds to ensure that they are competing on equal ground. But Smith relies on the small amount of residual light and dark she can see for spatial awareness and balance while riding. The blindfold, she says, is “dangerous and debilitating.”
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