Emily Skerrett, 33 from Bude in Cornwall, is a talented disabled horse rider who has been selected to represent Great Britain in Para-equestrian dressage and will now be able to perform even better thanks to the support of TGA and a folding Maximo mobility scooter.
Emily has been riding since the age of 4. She was originally born in Cheltenham however moved to Cornwall in 2011 to be nearer grandparents as she lives with disability and has two small children. Emily has ''Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) - a group of rare inherited conditions that affect connective tissue and also has a total wrist and hand fusion, dysautonomia and movement disorder. This results in a variety of mobility difficulties that means Emily needs crutches to walk and hence caring for her horses is a challenge. Pre-competition and day-to-day activity can sap her strength when in the stable yard, tacking up or accessing event show grounds, resulting in less energy to perform in the arena.
Despite these difficulties Emily has achieved many remarkable results in Para-dressage and also regularly competes against able-bodied riders. She has managed to fight back from severe illness following her pregnancies when she was unable to ride and did consider giving up equestrian sports altogether. Dressage is a highly skilled form of riding where horse and rider are judged on their ability to accurately complete a series of predetermined movements. Para- dressage is conducted under the same basic rules as conventional dressage, but with riders divided into different competition grades based on their functional abilities.
Now with Emily's recent selection to represent Great Britain, TGA has decided to sponsor her with a loaned Maximo mobility scooter so she can remain energized for several forthcoming international and national competitions and hence has the best chance of winning. In addition to being a busy mother, Emily runs a successful company called 'Paws and Whiskers'that provides dog walking, pet visits and care of exotics and reptiles.
Emily is a gifted rider and trains at the Lakefield Equestrian centre in Camelford. Her horse Woody is a 13-year-old Bay (16.3 hands) who had never done any Para-dressage before Emily started to work with him. Emily also rides a 20-year-old grey called Molly (16 hands) who is owned by Clare Yetton and who is also new to Para-dressage, though has plenty of experience of able-bodied competition. Together they have been the RDA National Champions for 2 years and have been placed at a number of national para-competitions including the KBIS Gold Championships. Emily is now aiming to defend their RDA title this summer, as well as competing in able-bodied summer regionals at Mount Ballan, a 2 Para International at Bishop Burton and the Para National Championships. With entrants limited to only four at the Rio Paralympics, Emily has an ultimate goal of qualifying for Tokyo 2020 and her new Maximo mobility scooter is going to provide a huge advantage.
Emily explains: 'My new Maximo mobility scooter is already making a massive difference around the yard as I use it to lead out the horses and access the training arena and paddock. Its 4 wheels and higher ground clearance mean it can cope with rougher terrain and my horses are not spooked by it driving around which is essential. As I can rest my legs and not battle with crutches I am less likely to have spasms and generally feel far less tired.'
'As my Maximo folds up quickly, we can transport it in the back of my Audi Q3 or in our HGV horsebox. I will be able to tackle the vast distances around competition show grounds, which is going to be so important as I hope to be competing at more international events next season. If I get tired before a Para-dressage test I can be prone to giving my horse the wrong signals through my legs and hence my scores can be lower. Now I can focus all my energy into performing when it matters. I believe I have a better chance of being successful for Great Britain and possibly representing my country at the 2020 Paralympics. It is a great honour to ride for Great Britain and thanks to TGA and my Maximo mobility scooter I can give it my best shot.'