Blind International Dressage Rider, Verity Smith, joins the BRIT Ambassador family
We are delighted that Verity has joined our BRIT Ambassador family and is championing the BRIT Challenge to support and improve young adult and student mental health and fitness throughout the UK. Verity is a blind international dressage rider, inspirational speaker, singer, songwriter and author. She believes in advocating the ability in disability and relishes the challenge of defying convention and breaking down boundaries. She has represented Great Britain as part of Para Team GB, and is currently competing at able bodied Elite level and winning. Her dream is to one day be on the Able Bodied Olympic Team. Currently, with her dual French nationality she is aiming to represent France in Paris 2024.
"Going blind has changed my outlook. It has brought into sharp focus the importance of working together and supporting each other both physically and emotionally. Training and competing in both Team GB and French Para Squads, and meeting young students through my visits to schools and colleges, has enabled me to see clearly the need to support young adults, students and elite athletes in order to avoid them facing long term mental health difficulties. This is a critical time for student mental health. It is fantastic that BRIT are determined to support and improve mental health and fitness UK wide through their annual BRIT Challenge. What an awesome achievement that almost 250 university and college teams have already taken part in BRIT Challenges over the past two years. BRIT’s vision to engage every university and college in the UK is an achievable one if the education and sports sectors unite to support this challenge.
The annual BRIT Challenge is a feelgood February fundraiser for every university, college, specialist college and Students’ Union to enter teams and encourage student and staff participation. I’m delighted that the BRIT Challenge is inclusive and enables students and staff of all abilities to take part and work as a team to cover the 2,022 mile distance by either hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding).
I am thrilled to be part of the BRIT Ambassador family to promote the BRIT Challenge, to destigmatise mental health and champion equality, diversity and inclusion. I urge my fellow equestrian athletes to join our BRIT Ambassador family and to encourage universities, colleges and students to take part in the annual BRIT Challenge. I would be delighted to support students and staff at the Sense College Loughborough, Royal Agricultural University and UCL, as they take on their BRIT Challenge.”
International Blind Dressage Rider
Verity is competing and winning at the highest level ever achieved by any blind rider in the World at Elite Able Bodied competitions. Her Golden Vision is to represent her country as a member of both Para Olympic and Olympic Dressage Teams. Having represented Para Team GB in the world championships in Denmark at the age of 18, and trained in Sweden, UK, Denmark and France with some of Europe's top trainers, Verity's hopes to represent Great Britain again in the London 2012 games were dashed by the death of her horse in 2011. A car crash in that same year, took Verity out of the saddle for a year. She was back on the horse in 2013, astride Szekit, the most beautiful Oldenburg gelding. Verity trained hard for the 2016 Rio Olympics with amazing trainers Sandy Philips (Olympic rider and Grade 1 listed International Judge) and Laura Tomlinson (Olympic gold medallist), only to have their dreams, once again derailed by the 'Blindfold Rule'. This dangerous rule made the wearing of a blindfold obligatory for all medically classified blind riders. So the 'Beat the Blindfold' campaign was born and although they did not win a medal, they won their campaign and in November 2016 the rule was overturned.
Verity has won, in recent years, the Equimasters Championship - able bodied. She competed in the Top Ten Dressage able bodied at Equita Lyon and came 12th in France at the French National Dressage Championship -able bodied- Elite level. Verity has been selected to represent France Internationally on the para dressage squad. Competing and winning against Able Bodied Dressage Riders at Elite level, both in the UK and France, Verity has attained the highest level of competition of any blind rider in the world. In 2021, Verity partnered with an incredible black Hanoverian mare “Daisy”, and her goal is to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics representing France.
Outside of her equestrian career, Verity is an Author, Singer/Songwriter and inspirational speaker. As an author, Verity wrote and published her first book The Groper’s Guide; this is the first part of her autobiography which offers a humorous insight into the hidden world of the unseen.
As a Singer/Songwriter, Verity has written and worked with, amongst others, Ivor Novello winner – Sacha Skarbek, Grammy nominee – Paul Herman and Oscar winner – Craig Armstrong. She has written and released her acoustic album La Verity which debuted at The Purcel Room, South Bank, London. Verity has also written music for the London production of ‘Norma Jeane’ Musical. In celebration of the Paralympics 2016, Verity wrote and recorded ‘Supersonic’ which was on the BBC as well as Australian, American and French radio. Verity also featured in the CNN International Human to Hero World Sports Series, which won Gold at the 2015 New York Festivals, World Best Film & Television Awards in the Human Interest Story in Television News;
Verity also featured in the Land Rover ‘Can and Will’ Campaign and was their Poster Girl at Burghley Horse Trials. As a speaker she has inspired, motivated and entertained the entire spectrum; from international corporations to primary schools. Verity has created a charity Equipe Verity which focuses on supporting the physical and emotional health of people with disabilities through the use of Equitherapy. To find out more about Verity, please visit her website. You can follow Verity on Twitter.