‘He knows the way home’: visually impaired rider determined to keep going

A visually impaired rider has shared her experiences to encourage others going through similar issues not to give up hope of enjoying riding.

Vicky Heil, 23, who also has Ehlers Danlos syndrome — a group of rare genetic conditions that affect the body’s connective tissue, has spoken of how help from others — and the right horse — have kept her in the saddle.

Vicky has ridden since she was a child and credits her horse Murphy for allowing her to continue enjoying her passion for riding.

Vicky Heil

“If at any point I am lost, I either check my phone, or let Murphy take the lead,” she said.

“He knows the way home very quickly. I blame him knowing dinner is waiting for him once he’s back! It’s all about working together, which keeps us safe, helps us to enjoy our ride and to allow me to feel independence where my body tends to fail me.

“With the right horse, communication and support you can definitely ride, hack out, jump and gallop across fields.”

Last year, Vicky signed up to take part in Brooke’s MyHackathon, which asks riders to hack 100 miles in 100 days and raise £100, which goes towards bringing relief and positive change to the lives of working equines across the world and the people who depend on them.

However her health restricted the amount of time she could ride, at which point some kind strangers offered to take up the cause and help her reach the 100-mile target as part of a team effort.

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Joy Wood and Cassi Errington, who had been following Vicky’s progress on the MyHackathon Facebook group, added their hacking miles to Vicky’s tally and she raised a total of £162.

“I felt very humbled that there were helpful and selfless riders willing to help me,” said Vicky.

“I have to admit I felt guilty taking on help for the challenge and not completing it myself but Brooke and the community of Hackathoners are so supportive and told me not to be so silly for feeling guilty.”

Brooke’s MyHackathon returns for a third year in 2019 and started yesterday (1 March).

For more information and to sign up, visit www.thebrooke.org

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