Meet Bryanna Tanase
Meet Bryanna Tanase
I am a 22 year old woman living with cerebral palsy (CP) in Tarpon Springs, FL. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disability caused by brain damage at or before birth, and it affects movement, balance, and coordination, among other things. There are varying degrees of CP, and mine is on the more severe end of the spectrum. I cannot walk or stand without assistance, need help with most activities of daily living, and am a full time wheelchair user.
"My ultimate goal is to qualify for the US Paradressage Team and represent the US at the Paralympics"
I have had a passion for horses since my first encounter with a palomino pony on a preschool field trip, and I have never stopped learning about and loving them. I was captivated by them, as they embody the spirit of freedom. My experience with horses in childhood was limited to vacation trail rides, zoo pony rides, and occasional visits to local farms. Other than that, I spent a good portion of my time reading horse books and watching movies to learn all about them. The day I would begin to live out my equestrian dreams and use my knowledge came in 2016. I was a senior in high school, and my parents enrolled me in the therapeutic riding program at Quantum Leap Farm. The experience at Quantum was so different than anything I had before, I was an active participant as opposed to simply being lead around, and I was learning how to ride.
Since that first day, everyone at Quantum has helped me reach major milestones in both riding and horsemanship. I took my first independent ride in December 2016, learned how to properly groom a horse, studied comparative anatomy, and so much more. I decided to give myself a few years to get used to riding and being around horses, but 2019 was the year I decided to take my paradressage dreams seriously.
I first became interested in dressage and paradressage around age 10 or 11, when I found videos of the sport online. I fell in love with how majestic the riders looked performing in the arena, and was so surprised and delighted to see riders with disabilities participating with them. It only took a few moments of watching riders like Charlotte Dujardin and Rebecca Hart dance with their horses that I knew it was something I had to do too. My ultimate goal is to qualify for the US Paradressage Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. In 2019, I made huge strides towards this goal by taking my first ride in a dressage saddle, learning dressage basics with my trainer at Quantum, and making connections with dressage and paradressage riders and trainers, as well as beginning to build my support team. In January 2020, I received my Grade 1 National Classification for Paradressage which will enable me to compete in USEF recognized Paradressage classes when I am ready. Now, I am in the process of looking for a horse to lease and a dressage trainer to work with, as I have noticed that I am lacking in terms of technical skill that I can't get in a therapeutic riding session. The combination of both therapeutic and dressage rides will be very effective, as they will serve different purposes. The dressage rides will allow me to gain the technical skills I need and learn new movements in a step-wise fashion, while my therapeutic rides will be for revision and continued strengthening and refinement.
A vision for inclusivity in the sport
My vision for inclusivity in equestrian sports is to increase diversity across equestrian media, especially for para-equestrians in North America, and to help people see the value that including people with disabilities in the sport can bring. We might have disabilities, but we’re doing our best to use our disabilities to our advantage. We’re not defined by our disabilities, and we know our limits. We are serious athletes, and we want to show others what we can do. Some people might be scared about us being on horses, but we know what we signed up for! We’re just as passionate as everyone else in the sport. We might have a lot of extra challenges in the way, but we’re not letting them stop us from doing it, even if it takes us a lot longer than the average person to get where we want to go. We’re letting our passion for the sport lead the way. I'd like people in the horse industry to be more open to taking on para equestrians as part of their team. If riding isn't an option, then allow us to help with barn chores as we can or with administrative tasks, we may surprise you. I'd also like more media outlets to reach out to para equestrians or for as many equestrian news outlets to have a section for para equestrians to share their stories and get information out there.
A Letter to My Rookie Self
Visit Horse Rookie to read Bryanna’s reflections on her equestrian journey as part of the “Letter to My Rookie Self” series.