Disabled horse rider triumphs in competitions

A BLAGDON horse rider who suffers from a severely curved spine and chronic fatigue has been selected to ride in a regional show.

A BLAGDON horse rider who suffers from a severely curved spine and chronic fatigue has been selected to ride in a regional show.

Britta Francis, of Rhodyate, has to take a cocktail of 100 different drugs every day to cope with the pain caused by her conditions but since discovering horse riding as a therapy she has been selected to compete in a prestigious dressage event.

The 28-year-old lives with her parents Roger and Kathy, who act as her carers and take her to and from her regular hospital visits.

She rides her horse Harry to help alleviate the symptoms of her curved spine and also the syndrome commonly known as ME. The motion of his walk helps to improve co-ordination, muscle tone, balance and circulation.


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Britta only began riding Harry around two years ago but since then they have starred in the main ring at The Royal Bath and West Show and qualified for the 2008 South West Veteran of the Year Championships.

They were also nominated for Horse and Hound Magazine's Hero Award and were awarded the 2007 special award from Saddle Up, a campaign set up to promote awareness of spinal injuries to those interested in horses.

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However, in December last year Britta realised she would have to stop competing in generic shows due to her worsening illness.

She said: "After doing competitions I was normally left feeling exhausted but at this one my brain totally failed me. I was left totally exhausted both physically and mentally and was bed bound for days after."

This was when Britta contacted Riding for the Disabled (RDA).

She said: "After only my first assessment for them I was asked to compete in the RDA regional dressage championships in May this year.

"I am now riding and training at the Avon Riding Centre, a purpose built RDA facility in Bristol."

Britta may have to face spinal surgery in the near future, has had to undergo numerous scans and also has to pay for regular drip treatments.

She said: "Harry is the most wonderful therapy and I know that no matter how much surgery I have to endure, it will be him that gets me back on my feet again.

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