‘I’m hooked up to a pump that delivers my nutrition 15 hours a day’: rider overcomes serious hurdles to win eventing

  • Two weeks before winning a BE90 section at Northallerton (26-27 March) on her sister’s horse, Ardeo Bounce, Sophie McDearmid, who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, was in hospital receiving treatment for a complication associated with the chronic genetic condition that affects the body’s connective tissues.

    “I was suffering from suspected peritonitis. One of the consequences of my illness is that my stomach doesn’t empty properly and I can’t eat normally, so I have to be hooked up to a pump 15 hours a day which delivers nutrition via a tube straight into my stomach,” explained Sophie, who endured numerous hospital stays last year before a jejunostomy (a procedure to insert a feeding tube) was finally performed.

    “I lost 12kg between March and June, then after the operation I had to stay away from the horses for six weeks because of the risk of infection, which was absolute torture.”

    Sophie McDearmid has to plan her event days carefully.

    “I often have to wear my backpack and pump in order to finish my dinner while I walk the course!” she said.

    Sophie’s sister, Faye, offered Sophie the ride on “Big” while she was busy at work.

    “He’s a dream. Last year I was really struggling with having the strength and energy to ride – I would often fall asleep in the lorry between phases – but this year I feel stronger than ever,” added Sophie, who also has her own horses to compete at novice and intermediate level.

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