Joanna’s Horse Ride


After breaking her neck in a fall Joanna is a C3 complete quadriplegic and uses a chin-controlled wheelchair. An active PBF presenter Joanna believes that “anything is possible”, and recently set herself a challenge to ride a horse. Joanna shares details of the planning and preparation involved and her fantastic experience. 

Joanna worked hard with the team at Making Strides to achieve her goal to sit balanced for 6 minutes. With training and encouragement from the team she didn’t just achieve this seemingly impossible target but went on to smash it and sat comfortably for 20 minutes.

Joanna now describes in her own words how she approached her next challenge to ride a horse!

“I tried to think of the most difficult thing I could do next, which was to sit on a horse. I have been working hard at the gym….strengthening my core and working on my balance techniques. After a long 13-hour drive and a good night’s sleep, I met Cassius the horse I was going to sit on. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning were spent, planning, preparing, and practicing how to get on the horse. Then Sunday afternoon it was go, go, go, time to get on the horse.

Q: How many people does it take to help a quadriplegic ride a horse?

  1. Rider, Joanna
  2. Support workers, Dell & Tiff (2)
  3. Core strength, Making Strides team. Tim, Jack, Maddie (3)
  4. Adaptive equipment, recommendation from Maddie’s client,  Alex from Push  Mobility organizing the hire. (2)
  5. Location, recommending accessible accommodation, Kerry and Josh (2)
  6. Willing stables and instructor, Jan Evans (1)

7, Climatising the horse Cassius, RDA instructor Neil (1)

  1. Body double for practice run and problem solving. Tiff (??)
  2. Additional stable help, Andrea and daughter Lily (2)
  3. Video and photos, John and Andrea (1 +??)
  4. Willing insurance agent. (1)

A: A total of fifteen people, plus myself……!

Six months preparation and organising . Three days at the stables, problem solving and practicing with a body double. Then a mad fifteen minutes getting ready to sit on the horse. Which turned into the most amazing unbelievable hour. Not just sitting on the horse as originally planned but walking around the arena multiple times. Then putting the jumping poles on the ground to step over, which then moved up to the first jump level…. Cassius is so tall he could step over them with ease.

So just like the impossible goal of sitting for six minutes unaided (which I smashed), sitting on the horse must have been too low an expectation because I smashed that as well!

Joanna takes inspiration from a couple of people who she admires very much – choosing to apply their life motto’s. She agrees with Perry Cross that “anything is possible” and Lindsay Nott’s call to “improvise adapt and overcome”

Joanna says that attending Making Strides has given her so much more than  she ever could have imagined, and she is now busy thinking up her next challenge!


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