Horses have always been my life since the age of 2 when I got my first pony Dinky. He was a very hairy 12.2 Welsh with a very cheeky side. Through the years we added more ponies for my brothers and myself as well as a few horses to teach us how to ride and the responsibilities that go along side. I knew this is what I wanted to do for life and as a career. I studied equine management at college and worked for many brilliant event riders, starting off as a working pupil then was offered a dream job as head girl and second rider for a very talented rider. I produced my own horses and competed them in the sport of eventing, which is a 3 phase competition – dressage, show jumping and cross country.
In 2015 I was involved in a very serious car accident which changed my life forever. I am paralysed from the waist down and suffered major abdominal injuries which affect me every day. I suffer from anxiety and have been through depression following the accident. When I was in hospital all I was telling the rehab staff was I want to ride again. The only thing that kept me going was working out the new challenge of trying to sit on a horse and getting to compete again. I knew this would mean a lot of hard work and commitment and i’m always up for a challenge.
As soon as I was discharged from hospital at the end of August 2015 I found a brilliant physiotherapist and pilates teacher to help me continue my rehab and strengthen what muscles I had left. For me to be able to ride again I had to get my core as strong as I could. Finally after my last operation in November I could plan riding a horse. I was fortunate enough to be offered via the RDA the chance to ride a lovely horse called Pandora, as all of my horses are either too young or too strong eventers. That was one of the most emotional days with feelings of excitement, worry, happiness but also very frustrating as it just showed me what I couldn’t do anymore with horses. It took four people to get me on board and make sure I was safe, whilst being led around an arena but this is what I had worked so hard for.
Since that emotional day I have continued riding going from once a week to three or four times, and continue lots of rehabilitation including swimming, gym, pilates, using an eksoskeleton and physiotherapy. I have been involved with an incredible charity called The Back Up Trust who help people who have suffered a spinal cord injury. Friends, family and myself in an adapted wheelchair participated in The Snowdon Push, where they pulled, pushed and crawled to the Peak of Mount Snowdon; unfortunately due to the weather none of the teams were allowed to go all the way to the top. In 2017 I was also asked to be part of their fashion show at Kensington rooftop gardens which was a brilliant day, where I modelled a summer outfit with other wheelchair users as well as able bodied models.
I have been told many times ‘you should be doing a blog’ but I didn’t feel emotionally ready and until I had finally competed in my first para dressage competition. In May 2017 this goal had finally been achieved; and my blog was now ready to start.
This is the start of JGparadressage. Not only am I going to write about riding, but about the brilliant team that help me everyday so I can get back to competing. I will also include videos, photos and all of the stories along the way. The rehabilitation that I undergo to help keep my body strong and working at the best it can will also be a big part, as this is vital for me with everyday activities as well as support for me riding.
Hopefully this blog will inspire others, showing that no matter what life throws in your way you just have to work out a new path to still reach your goals, and know that no matter how hard it may be, you can still live life to the full and do the things that make you happy.
I hope that you enjoy my blog about recovery, rehab and riding as well as my life.