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My Limitations With Ehlers-Danlos Won't Stop Me From Doing What I Love

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I am an equestrian. I also have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. My joints dislocate, my head spins, my blood pressure malfunctions and my body fights my every move. I have ridden horses since I was 4 years old, but 15 years later I realize I am not the same rider I was before my diagnosis. I have had instructors tell me, “It’s all in your head – your shoulder can’t be dislocated,” or “Maybe you should consider competing in the category for people with disabilities.” Despite not being supported by my family, instructors or, quite frankly, my joints, I keep riding. I keep saddling up and doing as much as I can until my body gives up and I need to stop. That could be 20 minutes or two hours – it all depends on that day, that minute.

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

author riding on her horse

I want people to understand that what I face is real, that EDS is painful and a mountain I need to climb each and every day of my life. My horse means everything to me; she is my world and I give her everything I can. To the trainers who have told me I’ll never be like the girl next to me in the warm-up ring and I shouldn’t expect to do well in the show, I want you to know that I know I’m different. I know the other people in my division probably don’t have a disorder like EDS. I know I’m the underdog. But I also know I am not a quitter. My body may fail me but I will do whatever it takes to cross those finish flags.

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

And to everyone with EDS struggling to learn your limitations: don’t give up on what you love. It won’t be easy, but there are always ways around. Maybe you won’t get the highest technical scores because your position is modified or maybe you won’t run the fastest or jump the highest. But you ran, you jumped, you took the time to modify your position and you crossed your own finish line. So know your limitations, wave at them standing beside you and carry them with you as you complete your goal.

Originally published: December 19, 2016
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