THREE years after suffering a serious spinal injury which threatened her life, Hollie Hicks, 17, is now embarking on a journey to represent Australia in Western Pleasure riding in the USA.
Hollie is hunting for sponsorship and is fundraising so she can afford the cost of representing her country in the US style of events, with a Facebook group set up.
Her mother, Linda, a nurse, told the story of how Hollie came off while riding on the family agistment property on the Sunshine Coast with her father and sister, Peta.
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"She's had a rocky road, she broke her back three years ago, when she was 14," she said.
"She was on a horse, which all of a sudden had a breakdown.
"She came off and fractured her lower back in two places.
"She was taken to hospital by ambulance and we found out she had neuro-nerve deceptive disorder."
Hollie's love of horses was eventually what got her back into the saddle.
"She has such a big love of horses, she got off the saddle, but got back on," Linda said.
Hollie and her sister Peta were home schooled after the accident, with Hollie unable to sit for a long period of time.
Her initial recovery period was six months, but her condition requires constant physical upkeep.
Hollie then began having ongoing problems, with nerves affecting the right side of her body.
"She came up and she had a condition called RSD," Linda explained. "Her nerve receptor paths would send altered messages to her head. It would be cold and she would be hot.
"The nerve path to her head would tell her she didn't have a leg. There was a lot of emotional strain.
"She got off medication because she wanted to get back on the horse.
"I told her if she wanted to get back onto the horse she needs to get back on herself.
"If it wasn't for horses she wouldn't be who she is today. It's a bit relief and therapy for her."
Hollie said she wants to spread her love of horses and riding.
"I truly enjoy riding and competing and would like to encourage others to give it a go," she said.
"Its not about the winning, its more the personal rewards that you achieve after you set your own milestones. I realise that what you put into your training is what you get in the way of rewards when competing."
Three years after the injury, Hollie has racked up the awards.
Among several notable achievements, she is in the top 10 Youth Paint Horse of Australia rankings, champion of the 2016 Western Extravaganza Bundaberg, as well as the reserve state champion at the Qld Paint Show in Youth Western Pleasure.
Peta, 16, also rides and is keeping up with her sister.
Both siblings ride for the Gunalda and Districts Western Performance Leisure Club. Peta is champion in nearly a dozen competitions, including the national champion Novice Youth Western Pleasure, and the state champion at Novice Youth Showmanship, Novice Youth Hunter Under Saddle and Novice Youth Hunt Seat Equitation, just to name a few.
She said she would love to see the US style of events become more population in Australia.
"It is an awesome sport with great people. I found it all initially very daunting but now love to help others to achieve and have fun. I would one day love to make my sport a career."
You can help Hollie raise her $6000 goal by heading to www.facebook.com/ HollieHicksYWG/
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