Mercedes Portaro

RDA Western Australia

"Mercedes learnt to ride independently and compete in the Special Olympics, winning a gold medal in dressage"


 

Mercedes was born with Spina Bifida that resulted in altered sensation and severe weakness below her waistline. She was never expected to walk or even sit up straight but, under the recommendation from her physiotherapist, she started horse riding with RDA at the age of 3.

Her first lesson at RDA required a high level of support. There were many days where, even with his amount of support, the activity was too tiring for her and the coaches would lay her over the horse on her stomach for relaxation. The movement of the horse and constant approximation of muscle tone proved miraculous. Mercedes learnt to walk unaided and has a healthy love of physical exercise.

She learnt to ride independently and compete in the Special Olympics, winning a gold medal in dressage.

Mercedes loves the sport and has been a regular competitor at State and National Championships.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More about Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida is Latin for "split spine" and is characterised by a defective closure of the vertebral (spinal) column. Sometimes the spinal cord protrudes in a hernial sac. Spina Bifida commonly also causes a cyst-like growth on the spine at birth and hydrocephalus (water on the brain). A shunt is usually inserted to drain fluid into the abdomen or heart.

Read more about Spina Bifida on our Fact Sheet.