Alanna Flax-Clark is a Grade 1b Para Dressage rider training with Lehua Custer at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. When she was 13 years old, she woke up and was unable to walk. Eventually, she was 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. She spent most of her high school years in the hospital, but with the support of her family, friends, and teachers she managed to graduate high school. She moved to Memphis where she double majored with a B.S. in Biology and Psychology, then moved to Boston where she obtained her M.S.Ed., specializing in severe special needs and her teaching credential.
However, starting around late 2007, Alanna’s health started to decline as her immune got extremely weak. Finally, she became extremely ill with a terrible infection and ended up very suddenly in the ER with a spiking fever, blood pressure dangerously low and heart rate dangerously high. Her immune system had attacked her nerves, spreading quickly so she was exhibiting signs of quadriplegia.
After struggling with her rehab, Alanna decided to try hippotherapy, or horse therapy. She had never ridden as a child, and really knew nothing about horses. Once she started, she saw so many changes emotionally and physically, and wanted to be challenged every day. As someone who spends her days using a wheelchair to get around instead of walking, riding a horse is even more special to Alanna. When she looks back at all the work she’s had to put in to get where she is today- from starting off not even being able to sit independently or get her legs in stirrups, to being independent today- every lesson and day at the barn is truly extraordinary. For that period each day she spends riding, she gains a sense of freedom while her horse lends her his legs and she’s able to experience the sensation of walking when they’re out together, something most people take for granted.
Alanna is currently training for the 2020 Paralympics with Ramazotti 75, a nineteen-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Master-Baccara, Bernstein) owned by Lehua Custer. She is also passionate about mentoring children and adults with physical disabilities and speaking. She has battled many obstacles and roadblocks, but has never let her disability limit her capabilities. She always uses her strengths to triumph over any pain and physical limitations.
To learn more about Alanna, visit her website at http://www.alannaflax-clark.com/