A former jockey who was left a paraplegic following a hurdles race fall at Exeter Racecourse achieved a long held ambition when she rode the War Horse Ride on Dartmoor.
Accompanying her was her lifelong racing hero Richard Pitman, a former jockey who recently donated a kidney to a complete stranger.
Sarah Gaisford was left paralysed from the waist down when she fell during a race at Exeter Racecourse in 2007.
Before her accident, she was a self-confessed equine addict and lived and breathed horses. Altogether she rode 50 point-to-point winners and 14 under Rules, but following her accident she thought her life in the saddle was over.
This year, however, Sarah started riding regularly again, and on October 20th embarked on the War Horse Ride with Richard Pitman, thanks to Liberty Trails who provide Dartmoor Riding Adventure Holidays.
Founder of Liberty Trails Elaine Prior said: “I’ve always had the deepest respect for Sarah. Her courage is astonishing and when I heard she was riding regularly again, I wanted to offer her the chance to do the ride, as it’s an incredible experience, across the same stunning scenery made famous by the film War Horse.”
Sarah said: “Just to be back riding again on the open moors is something I never thought I’d be doing. Being on a horse gives me a sense of utmost freedom which is food for the soul when you are confined to a wheel chair. It was just amazing to be back on Dartmoor riding where they actually filmed War Horse. To do the ride with Richard Pitman was incredible. He’s someone I really admire and I can’t thank Liberty Trails enough for providing me with the experience.”
Richard Pitman said: “I know Sarah well from the racing and I was always very taken with her fitness and ability on a horse. It’s fantastic to see her in the saddle again and it was a great honour to ride across Dartmoor with her.”
Liberty Trails was set up this year to provide adventure riding holidays on Dartmoor so that experienced riders can enjoy first-hand the exhilaration and excitement of riding across the wide open expanses of Dartmoor.
Sarah, her partner Jack O’Rourke, Richard and Elaine Prior rode out across the moor passing the isolated Grade II listed building used as the Narracott’s family farmhouse in the film.
Elaine said: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for them both and we are delighted to have been able do this for them.” As part of the War Horse Trail, they will stay at the Arundell Arms Hotel, where they had dinner the evening before the ride.
“Sarah has really captured our imaginations, as she is now determined to become a top wheel chair tennis player, while Richard is someone we have the utmost admiration for, not least as he donated a kidney earlier this year.”