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Winston-Salem teen wins national equestrian title

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Rachel Sanchez (right) holds ribbons she won in a national riding competition for physically challenged riders, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. (David Rolfe/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Rachel Sanchez has a lot to be thankful for — her health, her family and an equestrian title.

The 16-year-old Winston-Salem resident was struck in the head by a bullet at age 5 and is legally blind as a result, but it hasn’t slowed her down.

In November, she won the United Professional Horsemen’s Association Exceptional Challenge Cup at the American Royal National Championship in Kansas City. It was her second time competing at nationals.

“I was in shock,” Rachel said of her win over 14 other riders. “I was like, ‘What just happened?’”

Her mother, Stefanie Sanchez, said the result was unexpected because Rachel broke her ankle in June and didn’t ride all summer. They worked hard for a month and a half to prepare for the show.

Rachel currently trains at High Caliber Stables in Greensboro. The owner, Mary Orr, is a friend of the family.

“Rachel is a very special young lady,” Orr said by email. “She is a fighter. She loves her horse and she strives to be the very best she can be.”

Read full story: The Winston-Salem Journal