Para showjumping and hidden disability campigner Evie Toombes has already achieved a great deal, despite only being 19 years old.
Evie was born with a form of Spina Bifida, which affects the nerves to her legs, bladder and bowel. She is frequently in and out of hospital and was seriously ill earlier this year, but thanks to her incredible mental strength and determination, she was recently crowned Pikeur amateur rider of the decade at the H&H Awards.
While speaking to H&H magazine editor Pippa Roome in this week’s episode of the Horse & Hound Podcast, Evie reveals how horses help her to stay positive and overcome her challenges.
“It was my neurosurgeon, who did my spinal surgery, who encouraged my mum to let me ride,” explains Evie of how her love of horses manifested itself. “He said ‘just plonk her on a horse, get her riding, get her doing something she loves and some exercise — it’ll be the best thing for her’. Since then we haven’t really looked back.”
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Some clever advice from Evie’s mother helped set her off on her competitive equestrian career.
“‘Find a way, not an excuse’ is my life’s motto and it’s kept me pushing through. Growing up I was always falling off and I was scared to jump — I would much rather be in the stable, grooming my pony.
“But it was when I got poorlier that I wanted to achieve something and have a bit of value in myself, so mum suggested that I start writing blogs for medical companies who made the types of products I was using. I did and they paid me for it, so mum said ‘great, now you can go to a show and buy your entries with the money’.
“Both writing and then being able to go out and compete gave me a sense of achievement and made everything worthwhile, and since then it’s become a bit of an addiction.”
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