Equestrian empowers disabled teenager
EQUESTRIAN: Walking can be a struggle for 14-year-old Megan Guilfoyle-Hurley as she's living with cerebral palsy, but on top of her horse Mishka, she feels free.
The teenager began riding lessons at three but an operation to her hips meant she had to give it up.
When she started riding again as a 10-year-old, it was back to square one.
Four years later, after winning two medals at the recent state championships, she has been selected to compete for Queensland at the Special Olympics Australia National Games in Adelaide in April next year.
When she was younger, the family had lived on a property in Regency Downs, with a neighbour owning horses on his 80 acres of land.
Megan would regularly go down to the adjoining fence with a carrot in hand and call out, with one horse she named Alana coming running every time to greet her.
"Then when she was three, she said, 'I want to go riding',” father Terry said.
"She had no fear of it, she walked around and picked up the hooves and cleaned their feet. She loved it and it just developed from there.”
Megan said: "It's really relaxing, that would probably be the biggest thing. It's enjoyable and a lot of people can do it so you can meet new people through it.”
The Lockyer District High School student is looking forward to testing herself against tougher competition in Adelaide and hopes her performances will see her selected for the Australian side for the 2019 games in Dubai.
Getting the money together to send a young athlete interstate is not easy and the family will be busy fundraising to get Megan there.
She will have to compete without her beloved horse Mishka - with whom she has had great success since she picked the reins back up four years ago - as it is just too expensive to ship her down.
"We're just trying to get the community behind her as well,” Terry said.
To donate, visit nationalgames2018.com.au, click 'donate to an athlete' and search for Megan Guilfoyle-Hurley.