Blind Woman Rides Horse in Competition

By: Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Brooks Jarosz Email

PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- One woman may be blind but it's not stopping her from following her dreams of riding on the back of a horse.

Michelle Douglas, 45, of Putnam County has spent more than two years training and never seeing her horse, stable or even the competition ring.

"A lot of people probably wouldn't have wanted to take this on," Michelle Douglas said. "I haven't really let the fact that I don't see get in the way of doing anything."

For those living with disabilities, every day presents a new challenge but Michelle has overcome her most recent endeavor with her confidence.

"Michelle's a very talented lady," horse instructor Jane Jarvis said. "You can't ever tell her, she can't do anything."

Michelle's instructor, Jane Jarvis admits even she was hesitant at first when Michelle said she wanted to ride.

"We kind of take it for granted that most people can see," Jarvis said. "They can steer and if they're coming up on another horse they know to drive around."

With Michelle, it take some assistance and extra work.

Despite those limitations, Jane realized Michelle wouldn't give up and wanted to be treated just like any other member of the team at Taylor Made Farm in Hurricane.

"My family never placed any type of real limitations on me," Michelle Douglas said. "They encouraged me to do pretty much what everyone else would do."

Michelle rode her horse, Valentine, in her first competition Saturday morning.

"It gives me a lot of confidence but also it makes me feel good to know I can make someone else's dream come true," Jarvis said.

Her dream has become an inspiration for horse lovers and her fellow riders.

"She tells me that I did good and she always does good so I always tell her she did good," fellow rider Ashton Rutherford said. "I enjoy having fun with her."

For Michelle it's an adrenaline rush and an escape from reality.

"After a 40 hour work week, this is what I do for fun," Michelle Douglas said.

It's an experience witnessed by some but felt by so many more who know her.

"Doing this for Michelle is a highlight of my life," Taylor Made Farm owner Winsford Taylor said. "If you can help one person, then you've done great."

Michelle rides with the group at Taylor Made Farms at least twice a week.

Her horse, Valentine, was her recent Christmas present.

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