A jockey who was paralysed in a car accident has defied the odds to ride horses again.
Jemima Green, 27, of Beaminster, Dorset, in England’s south, was in the back seat of a car with friends three years ago when they were hit head-on by a van.
After discovering that a spinal cord injury had left her paralysed from the waist down, Jemima told doctors she refused to give up on riding horses.
“I watched my friend sitting next to me die instantly and I suffered a spinal cord injury,” Ms Green said.
“I remember sitting in the hospital saying that I wanted to ride again and the doctors told me I never could. I said, ‘that’s not an option’.”
But miraculously, Ms Green found a way to ride again.
She started walking with equipment made by Ekso Bionics as a way to strengthen her muscles, making it possible to ride on a horse despite her disability.
“I learned that the exoskeleton was the only way I can actually exercise. It got me standing and able to walk in a dynamic way,” she said.
“I felt like I was exercising, which was very exciting, and it made it possible for me to strengthen my core so that I could control the horse again. It’s been a massive part of my rehabilitation.
“It made it possible for me to compete twice and even do a race against able-bodied riders. I have had to take some time off for health reasons, but I hope to compete again by the end of the year.”
Paralysed rider’s incredible comeback
Ms Green placed first in a race against other disabled jockeys in May 2017 and came in third in a race against six able-bodied riders a month later.
She currently rides her horse twice a week and hopes to enter other competitions before the year’s end.
The 27-year-old has received many positive responses from people who have seen her using the exoskeleton to walk at events.
Children have even approached her and told her that she’s like ‘Iron Man.’
“It’s great to see everyone’s reactions, especially the children,” the jockey said.
“People ask me what it is, I tell them it helps me walk and they are just amazed.”
She’s also noticed major improvements in the way she feels both when walking with the exoskeleton and while riding her horse.
“My fitness and stamina have increased and my feet don’t swell up like they used to,” she said.
“When I first started walking, I would get very hot and sweaty. That doesn’t happen anymore.”
Ms Green is currently working on improving her balance on the horse, something that has been difficult for her due to her weak lower back muscles.
“I’m trying to work on my balance on the horse and preventing myself from leaning back when I’m not supposed to,” she said.
“It’s quite difficult without the lower back muscles, but hopefully I get there soon.”