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Natalie's Story

Hi, my name is Natalie and I’m a 19 year old para equestrian rider. I was born with a rare genetic syndrome, called Apert syndrome. This means that my hands and feet were fused at birth, so I have had many operations on my hands to be able to do normal things. 


When I was three years old, I decided that riding was going to be my passion as I turned on the TV to trackside horse racing and sat down to watch the horses race. It wasn’t until I was seven that I started having riding lessons and have been riding for 12 years since then. 


I have two ponies of my own; Zee who I’ve owned for 8 years, she’s a flea-bitten grey who I call my heart horse and Thyme who I’ve owned for 2 years, she’s a light bay with a star on her head, who I call my dressage queen. 


I am a very competitive rider and have been to Horse of the Year, which is New Zealand’s biggest horse event twice with my old pony Belle competing in Show hunter which is a type of jumping. Having different hands has come with many challenges which is why I use special reins with loops on them so I can gain better control when riding”.

Natalie James

Volunteer since 2023

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