Beijing 2008, London 2012
Her family and friends
Competing at Beijing 2008
Finishing fourth place at the 2010 World Equestrian Games
Horse riding and equestrian has defined Grace Bowman’s young but tragic life. Behind the psychology student’s bubbly, positive exterior is a life inextricably linked for the better and the worse, to horse riding.
When Grace was 12-years-old, she was off for a quick ride around the family’s property in Moonta, South Australia when her horse shied and took her under a tree. Grace collided with a low hanging tree branch, dislocating her spine and severing her spinal cord, which resulted in paraplegia and life in a wheelchair. Just four years later, Grace’s mother was tragically killed in a horse riding accident.
Grace has always found comfort, strength and inspiration in her relationship with horses and, despite her accident, continued to ride. In 2006, she was selected to represent Australia as a Young Rider at two competitions in England where she performed brilliantly, coming third behind the number one Paralympic rider in the world in her first three competition tests. She top scored on the first day of the Young Rider competition for future Paralympians and finished third overall.
In 2008 Grace rode at her first Paralympic Games, which she describes as both a highlight and a lowlight of her equestrian career. Thrilled to represent Australia at the Games, Grace’s horse didn’t feel the same way and was overwhelmed by the electric atmosphere within the equestrian arena. Grace has since competed at the 2010 World Equestrian Games where she finished fourth in the individual championship as well as various national competitions. As her luck would have it however, at her second Paralympic Games in London, Grace’s horse was again spooked by the sight screens, almost tossing her from the saddle and forcing her to withdraw from the remainder of competition.
Grace is extremely superstitious before she competes and must always have a four leaf clover and horseshoe in her pocket, two guardian angel pins over her heart (one for her mother and one for her father, who passed away in 2011) and wear her father’s wristwatch.
When she’s not training or studying, Grace loves to sleep and has been caught sleeping when she shouldn’t be. At the 2010 World Equestrian Games, she was so exhausted she dozed off while leaning against a pole and unbeknownst to Grace was put to bed in a wheelbarrow by her teammates and wheeled around.
The South Australian has also graced the cover of the York Peninsula telephone directory where she grew up and hopes to pursue a career in sports psychology after her equestrian career.