I began riding at a very small RDA group in Broadstairs when I was three years old to help with my balance and co-ordination. I took to it like a duck to water and loved it. I only had three or four sessions there because the group had many other children wanting a chance to ride, but I was lucky enough to have an auntie with two very naughty Shetland ponies. My twin sister and I started a love affair with said naughty ponies. Every weekend we would go to my aunt's stables, and soon we were competing in unaffiliated showing and jumping classes, which my sister excelled at. I also loved it, but my poor aunt had to jump the course with me because I couldn't remember it. I recall always getting through the first clear round, then the course changed and I was once again scuppered and my aunt was out of breath. I think my Mum was rather relieved when I eventually bowed out of jumping because I fell off rather more than I should have, although I never cried and always clambered back on.
I have never wanted my physical disabilities to define me. I have cerebral palsy ataxia, but I don’t like labels – unless it's Lemieux or Pikeur! Thinking back, as a child I was always tripping over and dropping things and had rather too many visits to A&E. I ache, yes, and look rather ungainly on a horse – I wish I could ride as still as Charlotte Dujardin – but I love it too much to ever stop. Therefore, I'll continue to squirm my way round the arena and frustrate my trainer, with various weights and bells hanging from me to try and curtail the unnecessary movement of my arms and legs.
My short-term memory is my biggest drawback, and I would describe myself as someone with dementia having a good day. Luckily for me, my long-term memory is far better and has enabled some things to stay in my head. My organisational skills are also non-existent, so I have no chance with ever learning a test. I know I look a bit vague at times, but that's only because I’m trying to remember where I am, what competition I’m at and what horse I’m about to ride, let alone where the arena is… I did, however, manage my GCSEs with a large dollop of help from my mum and an enabler, and continued on to Equine Studies at Hadlow College, where my interest in dressage began.
In the spring of 2012, I joined the Cobbes Meadow RDA group, where a lovely lady named Carole Mounce was instrumental in getting me RDA Classified. I started work with my trainer and friend, Joyce Wood, in the autumn of 2015 and rode her horse, Lollipop, for the first two years in para competitions. I became absolutely hooked on competing – I’d love to tell you about my wins, but I can’t remember them. Suffice to say, I have boxes of very pretty red ribbons and one day I will paper a room with them.
I live with my very chipper Chihuahua, Bruce, in a little barn overlooking our stables. I have six hairy monsters, they all belong to me and keep me busy from dawn till dusk. When I go away competing, good old Dad holds the fort – he’s super at mucking out and organising, and I don’t know what I would do without him. Mum is my memory, my driver and a mean plaiter.