ROME — "For normal people it's a job, for the disabled it's just a sport. I'm fighting to make riding a horse a job for us disabled people too". It is the last obstacle, the highest, that Aeneas Ferroni, 33 years old, suffering from tetraparesis since birth, decided to jump. He arrived in front of the last barrier with a contagious smile, and with his smile he took over the lawn Siena square. The green of Villa Borghese which from 25 to 28 May hosts the ninetieth edition of the 5-star Master that Rome has named after the D'Inzeo brothers. Aeneas now has one special saddle which allows him to get on his beloved horse Apache to compete in para-reining trials. An engineering jewel born in the Inail Prosthesis Center in Vigorso di Budrio (Bologna) and developed thanks to the commitment of the Ministry for Disability, the Italian Paralympic Committee and the Italian Equestrian Sports Federation. With the hope that he will soon be able to help other athletes with the same handicap to cultivate their passion.
That of Ferroni and his family is a story of commitment, courage "and also of little awareness of the adventure we embarked on three years ago. Without this last element we would certainly have given up", he joked Monica Rossi, Enea's mother, hiding the satisfaction and emotion felt in a special afternoon between laughter. "For us-she told her to Republic - is the culmination of an impossible dream. It wasn't all easy, actually. We paid dearly for the pandemic, which made it difficult to meet the institutions to carry on the project. Even harder, at the beginning, to convince people that it was possible to fulfill Aeneas' wish. Keeping all obstacles in mind. Paraplegics - she specified - are able to sit, he is not: he needed this particular support to be fit to compete ".
As he explained Massimo Improta, head of the aids department of the Inail prosthesis center, it is a device "that has an oscillating structure, capable of accompanying the movements of Aeneas' body. Therefore, it is not a stable model that would have limited them in part. Studied with the primary objective to ensure the safety of the rider". A system of tubes holds up a saddle made to measure in height, width and depth. The belts guarantee Enea's adherence to the backrest but at the same time are easy to hook and unhook, to make getting on and off the horse fluid. "We won this match - said the Fise president Mark DiPaola - thanks to the determination of Aeneas. Aware that the horse, in addition to the sporting one, has a fundamental therapeutic function". Success that for the president of the CIP, Luca Pancalli, was born thanks to the great work of a team that "deems respect for everyone's right to sport as fundamental". Concept taken up by the Minister for Disability Alessandra Locatelli, who identified Aeneas as "a great champion of will, an example for all". Presentation of the saddle which was made possible thanks to the Inail Prosthesis Center, despite the difficulties of the last few days linked to the floods that hit Emilia-Romagna. "We took off our boots for a few hours - said the director, Angelo Andrew - for the importance of this moment. The center is under water, but don't worry, we'll be back in operation soon to help other people like Enea".
Ferroni's love for horses is not recent. It blossomed about fifteen years ago, during hippotherapy sessions at the military academy in Modena. A passion that the grandfather of his father's partner then continued to inject into him. In the garden of her house in Guastalla, in the Reggio area, Enea now has a stable with a donkey and the Apache horse. Thanks to the electric wheelchair and the automated doors, Ferroni is autonomous in taking care of his animals. "We decided to build this structure - continued the mother - because the trips to the stables have complicated logistics. And so Enea has also become more responsible in managing his favorite activity". A convenience that has facilitated the conquest of degree in zootechnical sciences and technologies of animal reproduction. Now Ferroni is writing a book that tells his story. But "the great dream" was already contained in his degree thesis: a stable suitable for the handicapped to ensure that the equestrian world offers them stable job opportunities. Enea won't stop here, we can bet on it: now she also has a new saddle with which to face the last obstacle placed along her path.