A rider who lost her sight said it was a “dream come true” to canter along a beach and thanked horses for giving her her independence back.
Lizza Jordan, from Surrey, had to learn to walk again after she developed a rare strain of e.coli infection in September 2017 causing her to be put in a medically induced coma for three months.
“I was really poorly and on full life support as my organs began to fail. I developed a blood disorder which meant I had blood clots on my brain and behind my eyes,” Lizzi, 21, told H&H.
“The doctors brought me out of the coma at the end of November and I was mouthing to my family that I couldn’t see. I couldn’t speak because I had a tube down my throat helping me breathe.”
Lizzi said the doctors had not expected her to lose her vision.
“It was really difficult to deal with. Because I had been lying down for so long I had wasted away. I had to learn how to hold my head up and how to walk again but the worst part was not being able to see.
“I was worried I wouldn’t be able to ride again, it was a massive part of my life.”
Lizzi was released from hospital on 23 December 2017.
“I used to share a part-bred Welsh called Berry and I couldn’t wait to go and see her. She was my partner in crime,” said Lizzi.
“I got back on her around a month after I got out of hospital and had a walk round on her with lots of support. She felt so familiar, I trusted her.”
Lizzi said she struggled to cope after losing her sight but horses helped her and she was introduced to visually impaired para dressage rider Nicky Greenhill in September 2018.
“I wanted my own old life back. I started riding a gelding called Barney, owned by Samantha Dean. Horses became the one aspect of my life where I had control and independence. Before I lost my sight I was a confident rider and would give everything a go but I’ve been so lucky, Barney has given me so much confidence again.
“I met Nicky and her husband Gary who gave me some lessons. Gary would tell Nicky what I was doing wrong and between them they had me riding independently again. Nicky was the only one who could understand how I was feeling. I started doing more with Barney and even jumping again.”
On 29 September Lizzi fulfilled a dream when she went on a beach ride at Morfa Bychan with the Marros Riding Centre in Wales.
“I went for a hack with the centre last year and the staff were so kind and said they would get me out on the beach,” said Lizzi.
“We went out in a group of six and I rode a horse called Eddie behind the leader Becki. We were cantering through the waves and because I could hear the horse in front it wasn’t difficult.
“Becki was so supportive looking after me and I felt completely safe and confident on Eddie. I loved it.”
Article continued below…
‘I want to inspire other people to do what they want to do’
Lizzi said in the future she would like to become involved in para dressage.
“The ultimate dream is I would love to go to the Paralympics. It sounds a bit far fetched and I know I’ve a long way to go.
“I want to keep going forward and see where I can take things. Doing the beach ride and jumping are a thrill because they’re things I didn’t think were possible since losing my sight.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.