‘I can’t compete in able-bodied or para classes’: disabled rider calls for change

  • A disabled rider with a condition that affects her entire body is pushing for change after being told that she is not eligible to be classified for para dressage.

    Vicki Hoban, who has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), is lobbying for a change in the rules and for the condition to be recognised in classification.

    EDS is a group of hereditary conditions that affect the connective tissue that provides support in skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, internal organs and bones.

    The condition affects Vicki in a number of ways, including the fact that her joints dislocate easily, which is painful, debilitating and will require surgical intervention. This month she was also hospitalised owing to spinal dislocation and paralysis of her legs.

    But EDS is not recognised as a classifiable condition in the FEI’s para classification rules.

    Vicki said the current situation is “discrimination” and is calling for change not just for herself, but for all those in similar situations.

    “I can’t compete in able-bodied as I’m too disabled, but I can’t compete in para classes because I’m told I’m not disabled enough,” Vicki told H&H. “So I’m stuck, but I’m not the only one.”

    She added: “It’s not just about your limitations, it’s about keeping you safe within your limitations too.”

    She decided over Christmas that while she was going through a difficult time, she could channel her energy into making a difference.

    “I think it’s a worthwhile cause to take all my feelings at the minute and say, ‘how can I do good work? How can I make a difference? How can I bring about change, and be the change?’” she said.

    The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) code sets out a framework within which each sport sets its own specific classification criteria. H&H contacted the IPC for comment and was directed to the FEI – which H&H has also contacted for comment.

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