Congratulations to six year old Rachael and her pony Barney for qualifying for the Blair Atholl Horse Trials in Perthshire in August and the Caledonian Showing Championships in Howe, Fife in October. This would be an incredible achievement for anyone but for Rachael it is even more special as she has already overcome more challenges than most to get to this point.

barney rachel 2At only 11 months old Rachael sustained a brain injury after suffering from herpes encephalitis, a virus which took over her central nervous system and her brain. This left her with learning difficulties, weakness down her right side, memory problems, speech issues, emotional and behavioural difficulties and epilepsy. At one point she was suffering from up to 50 seizures a day.

Despite the challenges she faces on a daily basis Rachael has amazed everyone by being a very loving, outgoing and happy little girl who is independent and determined.

Rachael started riding when she was three years old with Riding for the Disabled before moving on to a general riding school. Within weeks she was trotting away independently and then jumping full courses of jumps in the schools monthly show jumping league. It was at this point that Rachael’s mother Laura made a big sacrifice and sold her beloved horse so that she could buy Rachael a pony of her own.barney rachel 3

That’s when Barney the pony came in to Rachael’s life. From the moment Barney and Rachael clapped eyes on each other they formed a very special bond. Barney helps to keep Rachael calm, giving her a routine and something to focus on. Since Barney has been in her life, Rachael’s marathon melt downs have stopped and her confidence has really grown.

The Child Brain Injury Trust have supported Rachael and her family over the last few years. We wish Rachael and Barney the very best of luck in their upcoming competitions. You can find out more about Rachael and Barney’s journey by visiting their Facebook page here.