Back in the saddle again

Amanda Shirtcliffe dreams of Rio in 2016
Amanda Shirtcliffe dreams of Rio in 2016

When Amanda Shirtcliffe was diagnosed with an incurable neurological disease a year ago, Rio de Janeiro was the last thing on her mind.

But fast-forward a year, and a spot in the Paralympic dressage team is what is spurring the Oldbrook rider on to great things.

“I had to learn to walk again,” Amanda said. Dystonia has affected her motor skills, her balance and she suffers from leg spasms - not ideal when riding a horse.

Amanda said: “It has been a challenge every step of the way. I’ve had to learn to do everything again.”

That includes riding a horse. With the spasms in her legs proving unnerving for many horses, she finally found one, trained by Felicity Wells, that she can ride without stirrups.

Her route into para-dressage was something of an accident, but after getting her first taste of competition, she was hooked. And after just a few months of competing, she’s already beginning to pick up some fantastic results,

She said: “As soon as I entered a competitive event, I was instantly taken by the sport.

“I only got back on a horse in December, so to win the British Para Talent Development Competition is just amazing.”

And now making a name for herself in a new field, Amanda has her sights set on Paralympic gold in Brazil.

“There’s no point in half measures. I’m going for gold in Rio de Janeiro.”

Can you help sponsor Amanda? Call 01908 651274.