A little about me...
As a saying goes: "You either get busy living or get busy dying" This is my mantra, my belief, the reason I have come so far and aim to go further.
I have been riding since I was a child. One of my earliest memories is of being put on a pony called Treacle who promptly bolted with me! I was lucky to be bought a pony by my mam and started competing in gymkhanas around my home town in Darlington. I competed on the South Durham Prince Phillip Games Team with a wonderful and versatile pony called Vista. In my late teens I started work at a point to point yard where I trained the horses and attended point to points and hunt races. I had my own horses as well and competed in show jumping all over the country.
In 2006, whilst at work, I suffered a catastrophic accident which resulted in the loss of both my legs. Thanks to the great north air ambulance and the staff at James Cook Hospital , I am still around to tell the tale! I spent 3 months in intensive care and have had 21 operations. When I became aware of the life changing injuries, I set my heart on not only riding again but competing again. I have adopted a quote from the Shawshank Redemption "You either get busy living or get busy dying". This is my mantra, my belief, the reason I have come so far and aim to go further.
In 2010 I applied to ride at the local RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) The Unicorn Centre, I was very apprehensive of how they were going to get me on the horse. Fortunately, this proved to be a relatively simple procedure due to their mounting area which allowed me to situate the wheelchair next to the horse and with help, just transfer straight to the saddle. I learned how to ride all over again. It was wonderful; the thought of this had kept me going through the difficult times. After a couple of months it was suggested I did a dressage test at their upcoming RDA show. I had never competed in a dressage test before so I thought I would 'give it a go'. To my surprise, I won!
After competing for several years at RDA shows in 2013 I decided I was ready to compete at BD (British Dressage) Para Dressage level. In order to do this I knew I had to buy my own horse. I was lucky to find Lily, an 11 year old cob. Lily had some experience in dressage and was safe for me to ride at the yard and at competitions. She adapted quickly to my aids, obviously I cannot use leg aids so I rely on my seat, voice, contact and two sticks. She wasn't fazed by my wheelchair and learnt to stand patiently while I got on. Lily was perfect for me to start competing in Para Dressage. In less than a year we scored the highest percentage at the Home International, we became Grade II Restricted Novice Champion at Hickstead and competed at the CPEDI 2* at Bishop Burton. This all resulted in being invited to join the BEF (British Equestrian Federation) EXCEL Talent Programme. Whilst Lily was a great Novice Para Horse I started to realise that, due to her size and build she would not have the paces to take me to the highest levels of competition.
In June 2014 I started to look for another horse with the paces but not fully dressage trained. I soon found Ginger aka Lordana TG. Ginger is a relatively young horse for dressage but she is very well bred and has dressage in her blood. We are learning together and we are now creating a strong partnership.
In 2015 Ginger was amazing in her first season of being a para dressage horse, she won the open winter para championships, competed in CPEDI 3* scoring up to 69% and we were the leading amateur combination at the Stoneleigh Championships across all the para grades.
More good news we have an additional member to our team, his name is Quincy and he is rising 5 years old and hopefully will be starting his para dressage career later in 2016.
I was given a second chance in life and I want to make the most of it. I have my confidence back and feel as strong, if not stronger, than before both physically and mentally. To have achieved what I have so far and to achieve my goal to represent my country at the highest level I need and have a great team around me. I wish to thank them, all my sponsors and all the people that have contributed to my success so far. I still have so much more to give so please join me and take part in my journey.