Becoming a para rider: Things are on the up!

After her first time back in the saddle last month, things have been getting better and better for Sallyanne. Here she tells us all about successes at home, in the saddle and securing sponsorship for her para career. 


Lots has been happening since I last blogged, including plenty of exciting things in my personal life.

Back at the beginning of June, I attended a ball in Cardiff for a spinal injuries charity. A few special friends and family went and it’s always a good excuse to get dressed up for a night and have a few drinks all in aid of spinal cord injury. 

 Attending the ball 

Attending the ball 

 A good night had by all! 

A good night had by all! 

My son Harry has taken his GCSE exams so the house has been quite tense with all the stress of revising and exams. Luckily he survived and he's now officially left school.

I'm so very proud of him, as he has coped so well with the upheaval of the changes in home life since my accident and spinal injury.

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Time at the yard

My daughter Stella loves spending time at the yard with me. She's been riding her horse she has on full loan called Spot. They're really getting a special bond now and it's lovely to see them coming along as a great little team.

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Spot is so tolerant of me wheeling around, trying to help Stella with grooming, tacking up and putting rugs on. She's fab and I can’t wait to see their little partnership develop over the next few months. 

We've been out for loads of family hacks where I go on the batec and take Alfie the dog up to the common. We have a great time racing and laughing and I love this special time we spend together.

Once I got stuck in a ditch and Stella had to dismount to help push me out. Once I was out and Stella back in the saddle, I got stuck again! We laughed so much, but poor Spot and Alfie must think I'm a nutter. They may be right!

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Training to ride 

I continue to be challenged by my physio. I still go weekly to sessions in the gym with the broken babes, which is a lot of fun, but a lot of hard work. 

My trainer, Seona, is amazing at helping me balance and the work I’ve been doing in the gym is actually fantastic. The positions I get into are hysterical, but as with any exercise, it lifts your mood and is great for a burst of endorphins.

The classes are so funny and the one good thing is that I'm treated just like one of the team. I can do a lot of the same exercises that the others do and I've now started standing in the stand frame that I have at home.

This has taken me nearly a year to be able to do. It was a difficult decision as to who was going to pay for the stand frame, either Salisbury of South Glos medical trust. Once that was sorted, it was ordered and delivered, but it wouldn’t fit through the door!

After my dad and Harry rebuilt it, it’s now able to hold my weight… which is a lot these days!

Having riding lessons

I now go weekly to the Avon RDA. I absolutely love this as it's an amazing feeling to be in a safe environment and riding the simulator.

We work on core strength and balance, all while going up and own through the paces from halt, to walk, trot, fast trot, canter and now this last couple of weeks have added fast canter!

 Riding the simulator 

Riding the simulator 

This has really put the pressure on and I have to concentrate so much to stay balanced, but I just go with the motion.

I love what it’s doing for my mental health. I feel so free from the confines of my wheelchair and the list of benefits you get from standing also relates to exercise and this form of exercise is amazing for me as a para.

We're working up to getting on the real thing at the RDA and experiencing the facilities there with their hoist. Hopefully I'll be able to get on a real horse soon, fingers crossed.

I haven’t been riding Super Flynn lately, but we have done a few hoist desensitising exercise sessions. The weather has been hot and with so many horse flies around, I think any horse that could stand still in that would deserve a medal.

We did give it a go a couple of weeks ago and Flynn was really good, but he seemed to be moving a lot faster than normal and was quite fidgety due to the horse flies.

We still manged a short walk, so that was good and I absolutely love the feeling I get from being back in the saddle.

As I've said before it makes me feel normal, but I have to work so hard to stay up and on top that I sort of forget about the riding as the concentration takes over.

 Aboard Super Flynn! 

Aboard Super Flynn! 

Becoming sponsored

I'm also lucky to have been selected as a Leg Up for Talent star on the Sponsor Me Direct social media programme.

This uses social media as a platform and I'm required and supported to obtain 10 sponsors,

With the backing of the programme, it helps to advertise yourself as an up-and-coming rider.

I'm already working with a few individual businesses and I can confirm that my first official sponsor is Dolphin Mobility. Dolphin supplied the hoist we fitted to the back of the lorry. It’s an amazing thing to happen and I'm so pleased.

The idea is that companies or individuals support me by donating something of value that will be useful, or money to pay for lessons, competitions, para training days or things I need for the horse.

At the moment, I'm getting use to blogging every day as part of the sponsorship programme. Along with my blog on Your Horse, I also write my own personal blog and this has been viewed by people from all over the world.

I love the fact that people are interested in my journey from the start when I was injured almost 20 months ago. I’ve been to hell and back and am now defiantly on the up! 

If you'd like to find out more and would like to be involved with my sponsorship, you can contact me at Sallyanne.haigh@legupfortalent.com.

A summer holiday

Another amazing thing we've accomplished as a family was going away on holiday.

We chose a cruise as thought this would be quite easy to achieve and enjoy - and enjoy we did! 

It was an amazing ship, but I can’t quite believe how big it was! It was a fantastic way of seeing some parts of the world and making new memories and I'm already saving up to go again. 

I’ve also started my new job. After 25 years of working for the NHS, I've now taken on a new challenge working for a private company called Wellspect Healthcare. It's one of the best things I've done, I just wish I'd done it years ago!  

I hope you're enjoying following my progress as I reach for my dream of getting back in the saddle and riding at the BD para dressage. Some of the dreams I had at the start of this journey are starting to fall into place now. 

Until next time,

Sallyanne