When the issue of Your Horse magazine was on sale which featured Jack and Sarah Oram in our 'Hairy Hopefuls' series, Sarah was in hospital and having undergone surgery, her life would never be the same again.
We caught up with her five months later to find out how her life with horses has changed.
I’d had a bout of acute calcific tendonitis in my left hip which was agony. Whilst in hospital I was diagnosed with a septic hip joint and I woke up having had surgery - an open joint flush - where they accidentally damaged my femoral nerve.
This left me with little use of my left leg, and my quads and gluteals on this side not functioning as they should. There's also peripheral nerve damage which has left me in constant pain and I may require further surgery.
As a result, I’ve not been out competing, but I've been working hard with my physio to get walking again and to get back on my horse, Jack. My physio and I have set the goal of me being ready to ride at Your Horse Live in November as part of the Hairy Hopefuls demonstration that’s taking place in the Country and Stable Arena.
I’ve had to make a lot of changes. I walk with crutches and at present I can only drive an automatic car. My second horse has had to go as he’s sharp and too quick on his feet for me and the lovely young girl who had him on loan gave him up. I’ve also had to sell my lorry as I can't drive it and I can’t load my horse while I’m on crutches as the ramp is too steep.
I need help to do Jack but my family, friends and the yard have been very supportive. They’ve helped me make changes so I can be as independent as possible. I’ve had to make significant changes to the day to day management of Jack. He’s currently living out with his field mate, hay is delivered to the field gate. I carry feeds in a bag on my back and I can now lead him on my crutches but it’s taken some time to desensitise him to those!
I’ve also had to change my tack and other gear to make things easier for me. I now use schooling wraps, rather than bandages. I have breeches with sticky-gel knees so I don't wobble in the saddle and I’ve changed my saddle to one with a much narrower twist so I can be as comfortable as possible.
I need help to ride and getting on isn't dignified to watch! I can't hack out alone and it’s safer for me to stay in an enclosed space but I have friends on the yard who have been accompanied me pottering around the farm.
My trainer, Alison Short has been a huge support to me mentally. At no point has she asked me what I can't do - only what I can do. She’s now working with Jack to school him to work without my left leg being able to do what it should. I can balance on him and he’s super-helpful, thankfully. I’m very grateful that Jack is so kind and honest, it's at times like these that you really appreciate the bond you have with your horse.
I had my first training session with Alison last Saturday and it felt like a huge achievement. Despite the pain being back on a horse and feeling more independent, even a little elegant, has made the biggest difference to my mental state.
I'm extremely grateful to everyone who's helped and supported me through this horrid last few months and I can't wait for Your Horse Live.......
You can see Sarah, Jack and the rest of the Hairy Hopefuls at Your Horse Live. They'll be part of the demonstration with their trainer, Alison Short in the Country & Stable Arena.
You can buy tickets at www.yourhorselive.co.uk