We are delighted that Emma has joined our BRIT Ambassador family and is championing the annual BRIT Challenge to support and improve young adult and student mental health and fitness throughout the UK.
Emma is a Para Dressage rider who has represented Great Britain as a member of the World Class Development Para Dressage Squad between 2003 and 2013. Emma is continues to compete, while pursuing her career with Nottingham Police, and her aspiration is to be selected to represent Great Britain again.
“Having lived with a disability all my life, working with young adults for almost 10 years as a Riding for the Disabled (RDA) Instructor, and as a former student, I know that many young adults suffer with mental health challenges.
COVID-19 continues to have an impact on the lives of many young people; especially those who are vulnerable, living with disabilities and who have limited mobility. Mental health services are under increasing pressure and one in four young people were unable to access the mental health support they need during the lockdown in 2020. Unless they receive professional support, these young adults and students will endure long-term mental health effects that will affect their health, studies and future employment.
The British Inspiration Trust’s annual BRIT Challenge is an exciting UK-wide opportunity for students and young adults of all abilities to unite as university and college teams (at home or on campus) and take part in an inspiring annual February feel-good fundraiser. Over the past two years, almost 180 university and college teams team have taken part in the annual BRIT Challenge and the vision is to ensure that this becomes a firm fixture in every UK university and college’s Calendar of Events so every student in the UK has the opportunity to participate.
I am thrilled to be joining the BRIT Ambassador family. To encourage universities and colleges to enter teams, and support young adults and students taking part in the annual BRIT Challenge, we need current and retired Olympians, Paralympians, Sports Personalities, Adventurers and Explorers, to come together and lend their support to BRIT. I am excited to share the opportunity to join the BRIT Ambassador family with my fellow Great Britain riders, so that we can unite as a Great Britain Equestrian family and support young adult mental health throughout the UK.
I look forward to encouraging and supporting students and staff at the University of Greenwich and Hadlow College as they take on the BRIT Challenge”.
Great Britain Para Dressage Rider
Emma was educated at St Catherine’s Roman Catholic School for Girls and then completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Equine Science with Writtle College at the University of Essex and Hadlow College at the University of Greenwich.
Emma’s disability is called Holt Oram Syndrome. It is a rare genetic disorder that resulted in Emma being born with severely shortened and abnormally developed arms, no shoulder joints, nerve damage, fused spine and a heart condition. Emma’s left arm is very short and she has two fingers and only a partial ulna; her right arm has no radius and only four fingers. Emma’s heart condition is called Sinus Node Disease and she also has very low blood pressure and bradycardia. Emma’s nerve damage is throughout her body and can often cause extreme pain.
Horse-riding changed everything for Emma and it has helped her both physically and mentally.
Emma has been riding for 30 years and it all started through her local Riding for the Disabled (RDA) Group as therapy when she was 18 months old. Throughout her childhood and early teenage years, Emma began competing in dressage through her local RDA Group. Emma was completely hooked at a young age and has been determined to reach her goal of competing at the European, World and Paralympic Games.
Between 2003 and 2013, Emma was part of the World Class Development Para Dressage Squad and represented Great Britain both nationally and internationally. Sadly in 2013, Emma became ill with her heart condition and her horse, Gentle, went lame which resulted in Emma losing her place on the squad.
Emma was determined to continue to compete and located her current ride Zandokan II or ‘Laddie’ in Essex. Laddie had jumped to discovery level and competed up to Advanced Medium with his previous owner Sofie Butchart. They have competed in able bodied dressage and in many National and International Competitions together.
Emma trains with Angela Weiss, a Grand Prix dressage rider, who has been Squad Coach for the Para Dressage team for the past 17 years. Angela has supported and trained many of the top combinations to European, World and Paralympic success.
Due to Emma’s disability becoming worse, she was then reassessed and regraded as a new Grade 3. This means she had to learn a new set of tests and compete in the small arena. Her Grade 3 tests consist of walking, trotting, leg yields, rein back and walk pirouettes.
This video is shows Emma with Great Britain Dressage Rider, Sophie Butchart, riding Sophie’s horse Royalty, and talking about Para Dressage and how she prepares for her competitions;
In 2010, Emma met Phil, the Founder of the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT), when he completed the 26-mile London Marathon in 26 hours and raised awareness, and funds, for 26 charities. Phil dedicated a mile to a different charity and was joined on every mile by young Ambassadors, staff and supporters from each of the 26 charities. Emma represented Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and twelve years on, Emma continues to support Phil as a BRIT Ambassador.
Since 2012, Emma has been a Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) Group Instructor at the Arrow Riding Centre RDA where she teaches children and adults with both physical and intellectual disabilities. Emma delivers Individual sessions through to group lessons and specialises in dressage instruction.
Since 2015, Emma has been an RDA Group Instructor at the Papplewick RDA where she teaches children and adults with both physical and intellectual disabilities.
Emma competes around her full-time job with Nottinghamshire Police. In 2017, Emma joined Nottinghamshire Police as a Professional Standards Directorate Complaints Officer and in 2021, was appointed as a Financial Intelligence Officer.
For more information on the RDA, please visit their website.
For more information on the Para-Equestrian team, please visit the British Equestrian website.
You can follow Emma on Instagram.