When Katherine Vail, now a senior at Emma, was thirteen she was in a devastating skiing accident. The young horseback rider had just started to compete in riding with her Morgan horse, Boo, and was showing enormous potential. With a badly fractured vertebra, surgeons told her she would never be able to ride again.
Kate officially defied the odds when she culminated years of training to become second in the nation and fifth in the world in her division in two events at the Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show. Astride the backs of her horses, Angel and Boo, Kate competed in a total of eight events during the competition, which ran from October 6-13, 2012.
Following her injury, Kate endured months of back braces and painful physical therapy. She would go on to surpass her multiple doctors’ expectations to get back in the saddle.
“Never give up,” she said. “I have one of those injuries that never fully gets healed and I have fallen off since, but I keep getting back up.”
Kate, who heralds from the horse town of Saratoga Springs, has made her love of riding part of her education through the Practicum program. Practicum, or individualized study, has allowed Kate to spend the time that she needs perfecting her talent while also receiving physical education credit for all her hard work.
Today, to become a world leader she spends five days a week at the barn—after school nearly every night and all day Saturday—riding, mucking out stables, and caring for her two horses.
“Sunday is my homework day,” she laughed.