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Legally-Blind Rider Tory Watters Jumping The Big Jumps At The 2003 Winter Equestrian Festival

Wellington, Florida -- February 3, 2003 -- Many of us cannot imagine getting on a horse under any circumstances. Some have had bad experiences while “in the saddle”. Others would only contemplate getting on a pokey horse at, let us say, a dude ranch and walking down a well-traveled path with a guide. But who could possibly imagine jumping a horse over really, really big jumps with a gauzy blindfold over their eyes? Well, one prominent, legally-blind, amateur rider has been doing this -- and doing it successfully -- for over 20 years!

Tory Watters was a happy, athletic, horse-crazy teenager, living in Cincinnati with her parents, when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and damaged optic nerves. Tory had been riding horses since the age of two and had been winning blue ribbons in the children’s hunter division for many years. At the age of 14, major headaches and blurred vision resulted in a life-changing operation and the removal of a malignant tumor. No follow-up radiation was required, and, luckily, the cancer was stopped in its tracks. However, Tory was left with no vision in her right eye and with 20/200 vision in her left eye.

So where did Tory go from there? Right back to what she always loved and knew best: horses, jumping and competition. While Tory sees life as a big, impressionist painting, she has learned to adjust. There is nothing -- short of driving a car --- that Tory cannot and will not do. Her positive attitude and supportive family life have made Tory a winner in more ways than one.

Now, at age 37, living in Wellington with her two beautiful sons, Tory competes at the highest amateur hunter levels -- that is, in the amateur-owner division where jumps are as high as 3’6”, with equally daunting spreads. Tory’s riding success has been so great that she was selected to compete at the recently-held 119th National Horse Show in Wellington – only the top 20 or so horse and rider teams in the United States, in each division, are invited to compete at The National.

How does Tory approach a very large jump on a very large horse when everything is, literally, a big blur? Talent, guts, practice and reliable mounts. And Tory, since her operation, given her indefatigable sense of humor and irony, has always named her horses with an eye/vision theme. Currently, Tory is competing at The 2003 Winter Equestrian Festival on three top horses: Eyewitness, See For Yourself and Eye Remember Rio. Previous horses have had names such as 20/20, Out of Sight, Double Vision, In Sight and See No Evil.

Tickets to the Winter Equestrian Festival are available by phone at 793-JUMP or at the gate. Admission is free on Wednesdays. Children 12 & under are free all days. Senior admission is $5 every day. Adult admission is $5 on Thursday and Friday, $10 on Saturday, and $15 on Sunday. Parking is free.

Winter Equestrian Festival Dates:

(Each week runs Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8:00 AM)

Bayer Gold Coast Classic - January 29 - February 2
Wellington Dressage – January 30 – February 2
Kilkenny/ICH Internationale – February 5 – 9
Florida Classic/WCHR Spectacular – February 12 – 16
Florida Dressage Classic –February 13 - 16
Zada Enterprises, LLC Wellington Masters – February 19 – 23
Tommy Bahama Palm Beach Open – February 26 – March 2
Cosequin Wellington Finale – March 5 – 9
Zada Enterprises, LLC WEF Dressage Classic – March 13 – 16


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