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Lewisham teen with Paralympic dreams wins National Riding for the Disabled junior dressage championship

Thirteen-year-old Yasmina Bez was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) aged 8. FA is a rare, inherited disease which causes progressive nervous system damage and movement problems and worsens over time.


Yasmina has problems with her speech and uses a wheelchair most of the time. She started horse-riding at the age of 11, initially as part of her therapy to improve her movement and strength, and found that as well as loving the sport, she had a real talent for it. She currently rides with the Riding for the Disabled New Lodge centre in Bromley. Her dream is to compete in the next Paralympics, but she will need her own horse and private lessons in order to progress.


Yasmina recently came 2nd in her class of 30 for the Dressage Walk event, riding a horse called Tayto at Penniwells Riding Centre for the Disabled in Borehamwood. The event was held virtually in locations all over the country in September, with results announced earlier this month.


Yasmina said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted to have been placed in the competition and can’t wait for my next event, the off-lead dressage. But if I am to achieve my dream of riding in the Paralympics I will need my own horse, which is why I’m fundraising with Tree of Hope.’


The family is being supported by children’s charity Tree of Hope which helps families fundraise for children like Yasmina with healthcare needs and provides charity status to benefit from gift aid, corporate support whilst also providing donor reassurance


Earlier this year Yasmina took part in the Superhero Tri 2022 event powered by Marvel, the biggest disability event of its kind in Europe on August 20 at Dorney Lake near Windsor in Berkshire, one of the London 2012 Olympic sites. The event saw hundreds of children across the country with disabilities and their chosen ‘sidekicks’ gather to complete a triathlon course of varying lengths. Participants could run, walk, skip or wheel their way to the finish line. She was also interview by Clare Balding, and appeared on a Channel 4 TV programme about the event.


Yasmina, who covered 10km in her walker dressed as Superman said: ‘It was my first time at the Superheroes Series and it was amazing. It was the first time I got to run for over 4 years and I felt free, I was so excited to run in the triathlon with my race runner and my family were all there to support me on the way.


‘My favourite part of the triathlon was when I was halfway in and all my relatives were calling on FaceTime to support me and I felt great! But the hardest part was when I was close to the finish line and I was really tired and was in pain and I wanted to quit but my mum kept pushing me until the end and I can’t thank her enough. When I reached the finish I felt so good. Superman and Wonder Woman were waiting for me and they congratulated me, I’m so glad I met them!’


Mum Touria Hauokachi, 36, said: ‘We all really enjoyed the event and hope it will help us raise money for a horse for Yasmina. Like any teenaged girl, she wants to be as independent as possible and with movement difficulties, riding really helps her to achieve that.’


Tree of Hope CEO Gill Gibb said: ‘We’re delighted to hear Yasmina is doing so well with her riding and wish her and her family all the best with their fundraising.’


To donate to Yasmina’s fund, visit

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