Jaden Stansfield was 10 when she suffered two broken legs in the terror attack of May 2017 and was afterwards diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Just over two years later, on 12 October, she and her coloured mare Poppy took fifth place in the junior concours d’elegance at the North West Open Championships in Lancashire.
Her mother Sharon told H&H: “She’s come so far; it’s unbelievable.
“She’s been to the championships before and it came up in her therapy; the aim was to get back to some form of normality.
“She started off with little steps, like going to the supermarket, all the little things we all take for granted but which she struggled with. She had horrendous panic attacks and anxiety, but this show was the big one.”
Sharon and her husband were waiting to collect Jaden from the Ariana Grande concert in May 2017 when they heard the blast.
“It was awful, your worst nightmare,” she said. “It took us about half an hour to find Jaden and the older girls from the yard. Jaden did speak to me on her own phone, which was traumatic, then eventually, the armed police brought them out.”
Jaden spent time in hospital, where Ariana paid her and others who had been injured a visit, and was diagnosed with PTSD some months later.
“She’s had a lot of therapy but the horses have been absolutely amazing,” Sharon said, adding that Jaden also took part in six equine–assisted therapy sessions with local police.
“Poppy has helped her through the PTSD, she’s been fantastic. She’s given her her confidence back.”
Sharon said the evening performance on Saturday was almost a replica of the concert, with the lights, crowds and noise, as well as the arena setting, and Jaden was nervous, as well as excited, beforehand.
“But as she was on Poppy, she felt safe,” she said. “She gave her her legs.
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“Just before she went in, she was nervous, but as soon as she went in, she was concentrating on nailing that sitting trot and she was absolutely beaming. I cried, and so did all my friends, who have all been there for us.”
Jaden made it to the top 10 of her young handlers’ class, as well as her fifth place in the concours.
“She said to me: ‘Do you think they’ve made a mistake and will come and take the rosette back?’” Sharon said. “I’m so incredibly proud of her.”
Sharon said the aim now will be for Jaden just to have fun, doing more concours, as well as some jumping, fun rides and “maybe a bit of eventing, she says, but we’ll see!”
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