Open heart surgery survivor takes on hacking challenge

Top showing producer Robert Walker has been helping Lucy to clock up the miles (Pic: Brooke) 

Top showing producer Robert Walker has been helping Lucy to clock up the miles (Pic: Brooke) 

Open heart surgery survivor, seven-year old Lucy Rayner, is taking on Brooke’s #MyMiniHackathon challenge with her pony Maxwelltown Meric.

Together they will hack 10 miles in 100 days to raise £100 for equine welfare charity Brooke, to help improve the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in developing countries.

Despite her young age Lucy, from Taporley in Cheshire, has already had open heart surgery twice after being diagnosed with rare heart condition Hemituncus at just eight months old.

But Lucy isn't letting her condition hold her back!

With Meric’s help, she keeps a positive approach to life and stays active by riding regularly.

Horses have always been a huge part of Lucy’s life and rehabilitation. She got her first pony called Teddy, a miniature Shetland, aged 22 months and together they trotted around the country lanes.

Lucy’s mum Catherine, will help Lucy with her Mini Hackathon, though she herself can only ride a little due to a riding accident 20 years ago that left her with nerve damage.

Catherine said: “I’m very proud of Lucy and I’m looking forward to us doing this Mini Hackathon challenge together. Lucy loves horses so much, they have helped her through her various hospital visits and she even had a photo of Teddy by her bed when she had her second operation, so it made sense to support a charity that helps millions of horses in the developing world.”

Lucy’s riding and love of horses has helped her take her mind off regular hospital visits and operations.

Lucy is fitted with an artificial pulmonary valve and will have to have further operations to replace the valve as she grows up.

Any cough or chest infection is particularly dangerous as it may mean she has fluid on her lungs, caused by the condition.

The operations have left Lucy with a large scar on her chest which she and her mum call her ‘magic zip’. 

Her condition was picked up when a scan to look for a hole in her heart revealed the far more serious illness.

Her first operation left her on a ventilator for three days. Catherine hopes that taking part in Brooke’s #MyMiniHackathon will help Lucy with her ongoing recovery while raising money to help the animals Lucy loves most.

My Mini Hackathon is part of Brooke’s new fundraising campaign #MyHackathon which challenges keen riders to hack 100 miles in 100 days to raise £100.

Aimed at younger riders or smaller horses, My Mini Hackathon suggests supporters lead their ponies 10 miles in 100 days to raise £100 to help Brooke with its latest campaign, How The Other Horse Lives.

Find out more about Brooke at

Watch a video of Lucy taking on the challenge here

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