Former eventer confined to wheelchair by MS takes on 200m challenge to change her life

  • A former eventer who has been unable to walk for the past 10 years is hoping to raise funds for a standing wheelchair that could significantly improve her quality of life.

    Ruth Warrener was regularly competing her horses, as well as running a business with her partner, when she received a shock diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the early 1990s.

    At the time, she was eventing at intermediate level, as well as breaking and producing horses to sell, and was a popular trainer in Surrey.

    “When I felt tired, I assumed it was because I was so busy but then I had a spell of blindness in one eye and, when the sight returned, the other one went blind,” Ruth said.

    “I went to see my GP and he referred me to a neurosurgeon who arranged various scans and tests, but it was only when the consultant gave me the results and confirmed that I had MS that it hit me how serious it was.”

    At first Ruth felt fine and thought that the diagnosis might not impact her lifestyle too badly but her health deteriorated and it also affected her relationship.

    “It was all too much for my partner and we split up and I had to leave Surrey, which had become home, and returned to Nottinghamshire to my family home,” she said. “I made the most of it but I was a long way from all my friends and I could no longer ride or care for my beloved horses because I lost the use of my legs.”

    Ruth moved into an adapted cottage at her parents’ farm and put in a school, but accepted she would have to sell her horses.

    She continued to stay connected to the horse world by taking in liveries, and also keeps a Shetland called Drummer.

    More recently, Ruth rekindled an interest in swimming and started receiving physio at Portland College, a leading specialist in working with disabled people.

    “Before the lockdown I swam once a week and did two lots of physio each week,” she said. “I have recently walked (assisted by a standing wheelchair) for the first time and did about 15m and the second week I walked about 25m which makes me so excited having not walked a step for over 10 years.”

    This experience inspired Ruth to set the target of being able to walk 200m, raising funds to buy a £15,500 standing wheelchair in the process.

    “I recently had a demonstration showing me a new chair ‘The Genie’, which stands me up so I can move around standing up or sitting down and even lying down,” she said.

    “I will benefit massively if I have one of these as it will help my circulation, my voice and my breathing and amazingly my mobility.  There is no funding available so I am challenging myself to achieve walking 200m and looking for sponsors.”

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    Ruth’s friend Annabel, with whom she used to hold clinics in Staplehurst, Kent, said that the 200m target would be a “massive achievement” as Ruth can struggle to sit upright.

    “For a long time she struggled to do anything but the physiotherapy has helped her to be more positive again,” Annabel said. “If she has a standing chair, it will enable her to interact with people at face height and she’ll be able to put the kettle on and do some things in the kitchen with the mobility she has in her hands.”

    “Ruth was a talented horsewoman in her day and I am sure many people will remember her,” she added. “She cringes at the thought of asking for help but if people could donate just a little it would be amazing.”

    Donations can be made via Ruth’s JustGiving page.

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