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Amateur Showcase: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Doesn't Deter Pearce-Dean

Wednesday 26 February 2020


From US equestrian news outlet The Chronicle of the Horse:


Kira Pearce-Dean
Chronic fatigue syndrome sometimes complicates
Kira Pearce-Dean’s riding career, but she
doesn’t let it keep her out of the saddle.
(Photo Courtesy Of Kira Pearce-Dean)

Amateur Showcase: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Doesn't Deter Pearce-Dean

By Natalie Voss
February 20, 2020
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

Adult amateurs face distinct challenges that may include juggling a full-time job with riding and show schedules, scrimping to save extra cash to make the trip to a horse show, or trading labor for lessons or catch-rides. For Kira Pearce-Dean, 31, the list of obstacles also includes her own body. 

Pearce-Dean suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating disorder that causes brain fog, insomnia, joint pain and fatigue that worsens with activity but doesn’t improve with rest,

“I was a very active child—I ran track and swam—but when it started, I had to stop all physical activity because any amount of activity made it worse,” she said. “It’s a yo-yo, peaks and valleys, trying to figure out what you can and can’t do. You have good months, bad months, good weeks, bad weeks, good years and bad ones. I spent many years being fairly depressed about not being able to keep up.”

As a child, Pearce-Dean was fascinated with horses, but she didn’t come from a family with hands-on horse experience. It was her dream to one day have a horse of her own. When she was in high school, she found a nearby barn where she could trade work for lessons. A month in, her fatigue—which had been cropping up intermittently through middle school—crescendoed. Suddenly, she struggled to keep up with friends who were participating in sports and spending late nights at parties. Riding was out of the question. 

There’s no cure for CFS, and no single drug addresses all its symptoms. Instead, Pearce-Dean has settled on a schedule and management program that works for her, while accepting that sometimes there are going to be flare-ups. In those cases, pushing through isn’t an option.


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