TEWKSBURY TWP., N.J. — Alanna Flax-Clark, U.S. Para Equestrian, recently returned to Mane Stream (an adaptive riding and therapy services non-profit in Oldwick) after spending a successful winter season competing at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
Over the winter she showed and trained in Wellington, Fla. with her Dutch Riding Pony, El Paso, or “Taco” as he is affectionately known.
Now she is available to speak to groups to share her inspirational story.
According to her website: When Flax-Clark was 13 she woke up one morning and could not move or walk on her right foot. “I had always been healthy, so this came as a shock. After a number of consults and progression of symptoms throughout my entire body to the point of being bedridden, in excruciating pain, unable to be touched, and my limbs developing contractures while being swollen and blue/purple in color, I was finally diagnosed with a chronic neurological disease associated with dysregulation of the central nervous system and autonomic nervous system that results in multiple functional loss in the bones, muscles, nerves, skin, and blood vessels.”
Despite her health issues she managed to go on and complete college and earned an M.S. Ed., specializing in severe special needs. “I worked full time with kids with various disabilities ranging from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Down Syndrome, Autism, and much more. I was enjoying life and couldn't be happier. But starting around late 2007, my health started to decline as my immune system seemed to get extremely weak. Finally, I became extremely ill with a terrible infection and ended up very suddenly in the ER with a spiking fever, my blood pressure dangerously low and heart rate dangerously high. My immune system had attacked my nerves, spreading quickly so I was exhibiting signs of quadriplegia,” she wrote.
Eventually she decided to try hippotherapy — the use of horses in therapy. She was never one of the horse crazy girls as a child but credits the equines for making a big difference in her life when she needed it the most.
She went from getting therapy from horses to competing at the highest level. She now has her eyes set on the 2020 Paralympics. She trains with Sara Schmitt Dressage, not too far from Mane Stream.
For three months each winter equestrians head to Florida with national competitions held every weekend and two CPEDI3* international shows where para-riders from various countries compete in front of multiple judges from all over the world. This year Flax-Clark and Taco won all their classes, coming home with blue ribbons at every CPEDI3* and National show.
Back home in New Jersey, she continues to train with Schmitt and has her first show in Canada at the end of May, another CPEDI3*.
She is also back at Mane Stream, sharing the story of how horses changed her life with the community at resource fairs and networking events.
To have Flax-Clark come out to speak to a school, business, or club/organization, contact email@example.com or 908-439-9636.
About Mane Stream — Mane Stream is a non-profit registered charitable organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals with physical, developmental, emotional and medical challenges through a diverse program of equine assisted activities, therapy services and educational initiatives. Mane Stream is designated as a Premier Accredited Center of PATH - Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, who provides education, accreditation and resources for the equine assisted activities industry.
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