Victoria defies the odds with help of Eddy

The first things you notice about Victoria Davies is her smile and her bubbly passion for life.

That's the way the 28-year-old from Bolong prefers it.

She doesn't like to focus on the crippling chronic auto-immune disease she was diagnosed with at just 12 years old - juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

She doesn't like to think about the 36 operations she's had, including bilateral hip replacements.

And she doesn't like to dwell on the years of pain, immobility, sickness and missed opportunities.

That's because Victoria has something better. She has her family, and she has her horses.

"My horses are my wings. My legs don't work that well and walking is painful, but once I'm on a horse there's a great freedom and independence," she said.

"Mentally and physically, my horses keep me going. If I don't get out of bed, the horses don't get fed. They're my responsibility and they always put a smile on my face. I live for them.

"Everyone knows the horses come first for me," she laughed.

"My mum said I could ride horses before I could walk. I've always loved riding and competition."

Ms Davies has recently developed a promising new riding partnership and special bond with Andalusian stallion, Eddy.

"He's my baby, I just adore him. It's taken me three years to find the right competition horse, but as soon as I saw him, I knew he was special."

The unlikely duo are defying the odds to compete together, showing people they have what it takes to be successful despite their respective barriers.

"A pre Andalusian stallion is not your typical competition horse - there's a lot of mainstream warm-bloods that are considered better breeds to get to the top," Ms Davies said.

"Like me too, really. So when people look at Eddy and me with my disabilities, they think we're mad.

"But he looks after me, we do well. We're training hard and looking to start entering some events next year and hopefully he'll be ready for some para-equestrian events - first national, then hopefully some international, before the Paralympics in Rio 2016.

"Being sick can get frustrating ... but I get by just living life for the moment. As long as I can ride my horses, I'll always be OK."

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