By Martha Hewett @martha_hewett

A TEENAGER who was born with dwarfism is fulfilling her dream of becoming a professional horse rider and says it has helped her accept her disability

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Videographer / director: Marcus Hessenberg
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal

Megan Gregory, from Croydon, was born with Achondroplasia – a type of dwarfism that affects the growth of arms and other long bones. In addition to this, Megan has a frontal bossing on the top of her head and trident hands.

The 19-year-old spent her school years being bullied but after taking up horse riding and started to compete two years ago, she has new-found confidence. 
Megan lives a normal life despite her disability, admitting she has “always liked a challenge”.

Megan told Barcroft TV: “I don’t like feeling different, I don’t like being made to feel different. I always try to do everything, I always find an alternative.” 

Yet, even with her positive attitude, Megan found school difficult with bullies and eventually moved after feeling depressed. 

“People would make fun of me and call me a ‘midget’. They’d get on their knees and take photos,” she explained.

This is where Megan found solace with horse riding: “I found horses helped. My mind was on something else other than my dwarfism.”

Megan has enjoyed horse riding from a young age, and when she had to stop swimming due to her leg pain worsening, she went back to horses.

She said: “When I horse ride, my legs are in much less pain because of my posture.”

Megan understands the risk of her horse riding, especially when suffering a bad fall but she just tries to relax and continue without feeling nervous. However, this isn’t without complications, particularly if she hits her head.

Mean said: “With dwarfism, the heads are built differently so when I fall off, I get a lot of head pain. I’ve fallen unconscious when I have ridden, but that’s only happened the one time luckily.”

Mum Karen praises her daughter’s bravery, especially when she sees her competing with other people who are much older and more experienced: “Then there is Megan with a disability,” she said. 

Megan rides Pandora, a rescue horse who she has owned for over two years. Karen is thrilled that Megan found Pandora: “Megan is in a different world when she is around horses, I think they have really helped each other.”

The fact that Pandora is a rescue horse comforts Megan, and she feels as though their bond is strengthened from living through bad situations and learning to trust.

She said: “The thing I most love about horse riding is the relationship between the horse and the rider. You have to build a bond and they have to learn to trust and I feel I can work with that.”

When it comes to competitions, Megan admits she can become quite competitive and doesn’t let her dwarfism hold her back. However, Megan acknowledges she is sometimes at a disadvantage. 

“There is always going to be someone bigger and better than you with the more expensive horse.”

She added: “I’ve got about 46 rosettes and medals. I like to bring the roses home.”

At Megan’s most recent horse riding competition at the rescue centre that looked after Pandora, Megan’s dad, Graham, said she has always found a way around everything.

Graham added: “She is just a small person, otherwise she is perfect in every way.

“If you can call being small ‘imperfect’, because I think she’s great."
Despite the obstacles life has thrown at Megan, she is grateful for everything she has and feels fortunate for the opportunities life has given her.

She said: “I am very lucky because I have a lot of support around me from my family and friends. I never thought I’d be able to do something as amazing as horse-riding.”

In regards to advice for others with dwarfism, Megan says: “Go on and try something, if you don’t like it then you don’t like it, but it’s always worth a try.

“Don’t let anything hold you back.”