Verity Smith’s love affair with horses has been in place since a very early age, riding since age 3 and competing on horseback since the age of 5. At the age of 8, Verity was told that she would go blind, to which she responded: “It’s ok; I ride and the horse can see for me!” A testament to her positive nature, drive and determination; the only concession thereafter was a switch from show jumping to dressage.
Over the years, Verity has been training in the UK, Sweden and France with top class dressage trainers, these trainers have never worked with blind or disabled riders and measure Verity’s abilities against all-comers.
Having represented her country but having had her London 2012 hopes dashed through the death of her horse and injury to herself, Verity is back in the saddle with her new horse Szekit in training with Sandy Philips who is one of the world’s top dressage trainers and judges.
Verity’s ability and attitude led Land Rover to select her for their ‘Can & Will’ campaign which celebrates human ambition, determination and achievement, captured in the stories of people who have conquered personal and physical challenges to realise their dreams. She was featured alongside Zara Phillips on the advertising for the the Burghley Horse Trials.
Aside from competing internationally in dressage Verity is an accomplished singer-songwriter with a unique voice who has collaborated with some of the music industries top talent. This includes Ivor Novello/Grammy nominee Sacha Skarbek and Oscar winner Chris Armstrong.
Verity has written and performed in a musical theatre shown with a French theatre company. The moving show which focuses on life from a blind perspective finishes with Verity flying on the trapeze.
She campaigns on behalf of Guide Dogs for the Blind and has represented the charity at the House of Lords. Verity was successful campaigning to allow Guide Dogs to travel on planes and Eurostar and for Braille to be displayed on vending machines. At present Verity is raising awareness and seeking to provide a positive role model for disability within Brazil prior to the 2016 Paralympics. She is in contact with , ex-footballer, Senator Romario with the hope of furthering this aim.
Verity is also taking on the International Olympic Committee and the FEI to overturn a ruling that was brought in, in January 2015, that all blind riders must wear a blindfold! Disabling a disabled person further is far from the spirit of the Paralympic movement.
Her autobiography ‘The Groper’s Guide’ is a humorous, poignant insight into Verity’s unsighted world. The Guardian wrote “The Groper’s Guide has a great human interest subject, a wealth of anecdotes and best of all a feisty un-self pitying approach.” She regularly appears in the national media and writes a blog for the Huffington Post.
As a person and a inspirational speaker Verity Smith personifies the ability in disability, always pushing the boundaries of what is possible. In late 2014 the public voted her ‘UK Guide Dog of the Year Owner’ with ‘Uffa’ her Guide Dog and the only concession to her disability!
“Horses gallop through my veins and no loss of sight will allow me to lose the freedom they afford my spirit”.
"I have known Verity for over 20 years. I was expecting a disabled rider but I met a talented young girl with a disability that she never allowed to get in the way."