All Abilities Show Girl finds her stride in horse riding
JESSICA Nielsen was so tiny when she was born she said she could fit into Cabbage Patch clothes.
Born 10 weeks premature and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Jessica couldn't walk until she was three-years-old but she has definitely found her stride in horse riding.
The Sunshine Coast Agricultural Show's All Abilities Winner has been involved with the Riding for Disabled Association since primary school and on Sunday she placed first out of 20 participants in a dressage event.
"It was quite surprising because I couldn't ride Ollie, my usual horse, so I had to ride one of my coach's horses, Jelly, short for gelatine," she said.
"This horse is huge, one of her steps is probably five of Ollie's and she's actually an international champion horse."
RDA Sunshine Coast have been putting on these informal riding competitions for some time but this was the first event that's included a formal ribbon ceremony.
"I didn't realise how well I had done until a friend came up to me and said 'Jess go have a look at the board, you've won, you've won,'" Jessica said.
"When I got my score sheet it showed that I had ridden with 67.059 per cent accuracy and my coach said that's one of the highest scores she's ever seen."
Jessica has been involved with the Sunshine Coast Agricultural Show for two years as an All Abilities Winner.
"Jenny Mackay was talking to my mum and volunteered me for the Show and I'm so glad that she did," she said.
"The category was created by Jenny to educate people and show them that people like me are as normal as we can be."
The All Abilities Winners have the same responsibilities as the Show Girls, which include helping with the three-day event, sashing horses and shaking hands.
"We're pretty much like any other showgirl, we don't get treated differently," she said.
"My first year I was like 'woah,' because so many people came up to talk to me and acknowledge me through my role as an All Abilities Winner."