‘Anything’s possible, isn’t it?’ Rider whose leg was amputated wins Hickstead championship

  • A rider whose left leg was amputated eight years ago has taken top honours in the Hickstead International Arena – showing that “anything’s possible”.

    Val Sheehan and Red Dove won the cob championship at the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby meeting, which earned them a place at the Agria Royal International Horse Show (23-28 July).

    Val, who is from Kantuck, Co Cork, but now lives in Kent, is joint-master of the East Kent Hunt. His leg was amputated after a riding accident.

    “I had to learn to ride again, but she’s very forgiving,” he said of the eight-year-old mare. “But we have to make sure she rides well and goes for the ride judge, too, and that’s an art on its own. But she wants to do the job, and she smiles through the bridle all the time.”

    Val added that “Audrey” is “amazing” to ride.

    “We’ve had her since she was a two-year-old, and taken it very slow up to this point, but I really think she’s just about to come into herself,” he said. “But even as a young horse, she was special. She has a huge fan club – everybody loves Audrey!

    “She’s just light across the ground in all her paces. She doesn’t hit the ground heavy; she drops into the gallop and just rides real light and fluffy for a heavyweight cob. She’s just fabulous across the ground – you’d want to hunt her all day, as they should be judged.”

    For Val, a very experienced producer of cobs, this prestigious win means all the more after his return to the saddle.

    “To ride in the main ring, to go champion – for somebody with one leg, well, you don’t imagine you can ever do it, but anything’s possible, isn’t it?” he said.

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