46 bones broken in an accident, but today a stunt rider

PHOTO: 46 bones broken in an accident, but today a stunt rider

SINGAPORE - Ms Fairland Scot Ferguson, 31, has had a natural affinity with horses since she was a young child. Instead of dolls, she asked her parents for stuffed horses to play with. She also requested to learn horse riding and started lessons at the tender age of four.

From 2003 to 2009, the American worked at the Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show, where she also picked up stunt-riding.

This involves Roman riding and trick riding. In Roman riding, the rider stands on top of two horses, while in trick riding, the person performs acrobatic stunts on a horse galloping at full speed, which can be between 32kmh and 40kmh.

Since 2009, she has been performing with equestrian circus Cavalia. This show is a mix of equestrian and performing arts as well as multimedia and special effects, innovative acrobatics, dance, aerial stunts and live music. It is now in Singapore and runs till Oct 5 under the White Theatre Tent at Bayfront Avenue.

Ms Fairland grew up in Virginia in the United States but now resides in South Carolina. She has a brother, who is 18 months older than her.

Her boyfriend, Mr Chad Dyson, 28, is a fellow stunt rider at Cavalia. They are childhood friends. She stands 1.7m tall and weighs 59kg.

How do you keep fit?

For the past five years, I have been using Jillian Michaels' workout DVDs to exercise five days a week. She is the trainer in American reality series The Biggest Loser. The workouts range from 25 minutes to an hour.

I also run. When I am overseas, I run outdoors to see the city I'm in.

Now, in Singapore, I jog from my apartment in Clarke Quay to Cavalia's White Theatre Tent at Bayfront Avenue every day, and sometimes back home, after my performance. I also enjoy hiking, basketball, baseball, swimming and cycling.

How has your exercise regimen changed over the years?

I used to exercise for a longer duration - two to three hours - but with less focus.

I have since learnt that exercise should ideally be short, intensive and focused.

What is your secret to looking fabulous?

I make sleep a priority, eating healthily by not consuming anything cooked or processed, and staying away from products, such as lotions, that are not organic or natural.

I also do not smoke nor drink.

Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

In my first year at Coastal Carolina University, I was fat, weighing 18kg more than I do now, which is like carrying an extra child.

Then, at 19, I was away from home for the first time. I had unlimited access to buffets served at the university at every meal.

I was taken aback when I tipped the scales at 77kg. When I set myself a calorie limit of 1,800 and kept to it, I lost 9kg within a few months.

Tell us about your near-death experience.

When I was 20, I went hiking at some sea cliffs with friends, and chose the tallest cliff to jump from into the water below. It towered at 21m.

I hesitated before I jumped and, before I knew it, the footing gave way. Instead of jumping out and into the water, I tumbled down the rocks and broke 46 bones, of which 23 were in my face and skull.

I was in and out of hospital for the next six months and endured 13 procedures to fix my body, with the use of metal plates and screws. I have since made a full recovery.

I do have a few scars, though - on my forehead, cheeks, right arm and left leg - that someone would occasionally ask me about.

What is your diet like?

To maintain my weight, my daily allowance is 1,400 calories.

I stick to a raw food diet 85 per cent of the time. In the mornings, I make a "superfood shake" with whole food powder that is loaded with vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It has about 600 calories in it, so I take in the remaining 800 calories through salads, raw fish, vegetables and nuts.

I cannot live without a phone app called "Lose It!" to track the amount of calories I eat.

Has this diet changed over the years?

I cringe when I think about how I used to eat. I used to opt for sugar-free cookies and meals that claim to be low in calories, but are actually laden with chemicals such as sodium. At McDonald's, I would get the snack wrap instead of a Big Mac burger, and thought myself a health queen. I have since learnt that it is more important to eat natural and unprocessed whole food.

What are your indulgences?

Peanut butter.

I can eat the whole jar in one sitting. So what I do is to buy the smallest jar that is available, then get my boyfriend to safekeep it for me and ration it to me. I take only a couple of spoonfuls of the peanut butter each time.

What do you do to recharge yourself?

I need a lot of sleep, around 10 hours a night. Not getting enough sleep is my deal breaker.

What are the three most important things in your life?

Firstly, God, followed by my friends and family. The moment you start living less for yourself and more for others is the moment when you really start living.

Lastly, my horses - including those which I have worked with in the past - because they are my life.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

Not right now, but who knows how I may feel in the future.

I feel that nothing that a doctor does to you on the outside will truly change how you are on the inside. If you're getting plastic surgery for the wrong reasons, you are going to have the same inner struggles even after surgery - except that you have less money in your wallet.

Do you think you are sexy?

Honestly, no.

My idea of sexy would be people such as Brazilian model Adriana Lima, American actress Jessica Biel and French model Laetitia Casta - all of whom are sultry and exotic-looking.

I'm just a hyper-animated goofball.


Get a copy of Mind Your Body, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.