THE disqualification of a female equestrian rider at the Lakes and Craters International Horse Trials has been labelled a disgrace.
Shannon Bailey, 26, has been competing for 12 years and riding since a young age.
Mrs Bailey was born without fingers and only a partial thumb on her left hand and uses modified reins when riding. She was stunned on Saturday when she was advised by a technical delegate she was not allowed to compete in the Eva95 section, despite riding at the event five or six times in past years.
"A technical delegate approached me and told me I had been eliminated and I was no longer allowed to compete," Mrs Bailey said.
At first she was told the reason behind her disqualification was due to her modified reins, but when she pointed out there was no rule against this, she was told it was due to safety concerns because of her disability.
"They looked at the rules and found out they're (the reins) legal and said it was my hand that was the issue," Mrs Bailey said.
"I've never had anything like this happen in my 12 years of competing."
Mrs Bailey said she was extremely upset as equestrian was her true passion in life.
In fact, she met her husband Lochie through her involvement in the sport.
Mrs Bailey said she was heartened by the outpouring of support she had received on social media after her disqualification, with Olympians including Megan Jones and Sonja Johnson reaching out to express their anger at the decision. "Everyone has been so supportive," she said.
Mrs Bailey's mother Melinda Walker said she could not believe what had happened to her daughter.
"It's a disgrace," she said.
"I thought 'this cannot be happening'. It is such a mild disability and she is a beautiful rider."
Mrs Walker rubbished claims her daughter's safety would be at risk if she competed in the Camperdown event. "That's bullshit - we would not let her ride if we thought it was unsafe," she said.
Mrs Walker said her daughter had been discriminated against because of her disability.
"She was so upset," Mrs Walker said. "They singled her out and ambushed her."
The Standard sought comment from the organisers of the event on the issue but did not receive a response.
Article courtesy of Nine and The Standard