I became involved with para equestrian sport towards the end of 2014,  and I am currently a grade 1 Para Showjumper competing at 70cm.

I suffer with Lupus; an autoimmune disease, Asperger’s; a developmental disorder, and Cystic Lung disease.  All of this leaves me with weakness with the muscles in my legs and arms, and affects my balance and coordination while riding.   I have worked in the horse industry most of my life as a groom, on the national and international circuit.  I spent a few years in Italy where I jumped horses at training shows to 1:30metre level, before my illnesses started.  In 2010 I started to become ill and it was 2 years later that I eventually got some of my diagnosis.

I bought my horse Whisper as a  6 year old, she is a 16.3h Dutch KWPN who will be 15 this year.   Prior to being diagnosed and at the beginning of my illness I was house bound for several months and unable to ride her.  Knowing she was there waiting for me pushed me into getting out of the house and back into riding, I can honestly say she saved my life.   I was never taught to ride, never had a riding lesson, I just used to watch and listen and I taught myself. Towards the end of 2017 I started to have training with a super trainer called Vicky Young, who is very understanding and full of encouragement.

I competed in my first para competition at the RDA National championship at Hartpury where I came second.  I then went to the British showing jumping national championships where I won the grade one para show jumping section.

2016 was a wash out for me due to illness and lack of transport but in 2017 I was back out competing and won the para grade I class at Scope.  I am really excited about the 2018 season; we have lots of training and competitions planned.

It’s a really fun sport to be in, and I would encourage anyone who has a disability to have a go. The height and difficulty of the courses is set by your grading.   Grade I jump 70cm, Grade II jump 80cm and grade III jump 90cm.  For any riders wanting more information, the British Show jumping website is a great place to start, or contact the Para rider rep; Karen Bostock through British Showjumping.

Looking forward to writing about what Whisper and I have been up to next month,

Mark & Whisper

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!