Articles: Press Release
Legally-Blind Rider Tory Watters Jumping The Big Jumps At The 2003 Winter Equestrian Festival
Mason Phelps, Jr. or Beverly Lake Wilkes at (561) 753-3389 or at
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
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.
For further information about this amazing young woman,
please contact Tory Watters directly at (561) 309-9565.
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.