Jemima and Joy – helping to raise awareness of disability in the horse world

AN inspiring disabled rider from Barnoldswick has taken on the challenge of training a young former racehorse to compete in top para-dressage competitions.

Jemima Croft, 24, has been disabled since the age of 15 due to several neurological pathologies, but far from letting it go, she raises awareness of disability in the harsh and sometimes ruthless equine world.

The rider, who uses a wheelchair, splits her time between Myerscough College, Preston, where she studies Equine Science and Management part-time, and the Livery Yard in East Marton where her horse, Travelers Joy, is stabled .

Jemima, who lives with her fiancé, Matty, blogs about being a disabled rider and recently reached the semi-finals of the Spillers Brand Ambassador Program. She was also a role model for the disability equality charity Scope.

The rider, who had loaned horses before, bought Joy after seeing her advertised on Facebook. The seven-year-old, 15.3-inch thoroughbred, looked “too good to be true,” Jemima said.

“Matty convinced me to at least go and try her, I knew she was perfect the moment I saw her and when I rode her I could feel her potential instantly, then she went through a five-step verification and was home with us a week later.

“Joy is now fully wheelchair trained and responds primarily by voice command and subtle hand gestures. She also moves fully from my seat when mounted.

Jemima says she created her social media accounts – @jemcroftpararider – a year ago to raise awareness of disability within the equine industry, document her journey to becoming a para-rider and show the ups and downs of disability. conversion of an old racehorse.

“Using my previous work as a role model for disability for Scope, I have been able to work with brands to help provide better representation of disability within the equine community and improve inclusivity. I also help advising the British Horse Society (BHS) on creating more equal opportunities for people with disabilities in equine education sectors.

Jemima’s goal is to compete in para dressage in regional competitions, but for now she is focused on retraining Joy in show jumping, cross country and off-road hacking.

“The hardest thing about retraining a former racehorse is that Joy has a really busy brain. She’s incredibly smart, which is fantastic, but that can also work against me.

“She has her own mind and her own opinions and she’s very good at telling me when she’s not happy about something or doesn’t understand. So I had to work really hard to figure out what worked and what didn’t. working, doing enough work that she’s mentally challenged, but not overwhelming her. She keeps me on my toes.

Jemima spends around four hours a day at the stables, cleaning, putting Joy in a field and training her – when she’s at university her day starts at 6.30am before the hour and a half drive to Myerscough and then his return to the stables in the evening.

“I only need help with my work if it’s a day when my chronic illnesses are particularly serious, if I have severe chronic fatigue or pain. On those days, Matty, my mother or the site staff will help me. But otherwise I do everything myself.

“I spent good years lending horses to learn how to adapt and do jobs a little differently so that I could do them myself. I also use light equipment, schedule breaks, have everything at wheelchair height so if I need to I can do my work sitting down, and on healthy days I do extra work like making extra nets to save energy. bad days.”

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