Each week we interview the people behind some of the most interesting and popular equestrian accounts on instagram. This week I’m chatting with the amazing Katie, star of the @katiepararider instagram page. We discuss life so far, her family, Katie’s equestrian ambitions, and of course her one in a million Irish Sports Horse Boo. At the time of this interview, the inspirational Katie is considering an additional horse acquisition so don’t forget to follow her account on instagram to see what happens.
Tell us a little about you and your horse
My name is Katie Reilly, I am 12 years old and I have a disability called cerebral palsy which affects my right arm and leg. My horse’s name is Boo, she is 9 years old and is an Irish sport horse x.
How did your horse come into your life?
I was at home in Ireland when someone replied to an advert my mum had put up looking for a horse. It was very surreal how things worked out as boo was a perfect fit. She is truly one in a million. Boo has giving me such confidence but again teaching me everything I know. She is not the easiest of mares and has her own mind but has helped me in so many ways. It’s safe to say she will be with us forever. I do have another in the pipeline at the minute but don’t want to say too much in case I jinx it!! All going well she will be with me in the coming weeks. She is something incredibly special.
How long have you been riding?
I have been independently riding for two years. Before then I was on the lead. My family are all horsey people and I grew up on a yard. Back in Ireland RDA is quite small so when we moved here, we found a local group who helped us find out what adaptations would work. I tried many different things some worked some didn’t and some needed minor adjustments. I ride now with narrow loop reins; my saddle is specially made for me also.
When and where do you ride?
I ride almost every day and we have recently just bought a farm so I will mostly be riding there. We have big plans early next year to build a 70/30 indoor fully accessible arena with a lecture room, raised balcony viewing gallery and stables. Also, a 25/65 all-weather outdoor arena. It will be amazing when finished.
How did you start riding?
I joined an RDA group called Pegasus at North Cheshire equestrian centre, they showed me so much to help with my disability whilst riding.
What you and your horse currently working on?
We will be attending the Niagara Equissage Pulse Summer Festival at Solihull Riding Club this Saturday and Sunday, so Boo and myself are looking over past tests and working on what didn’t go to well.
What do you love about riding?
I enjoy the freedom and confidence it gives me, I also love being able to do something that isn’t controlled by limits because of my disability!
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
I am aspiring to attend the 2024 Paralympics and compete at the European championships! Its huge but why not aim high!!
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
Oh god yes, every time I put on my show jacket, but I think it’s important to have nerves as it shows you care. But also, to learn to be able to control them.
How do you deal with them?
A good friend of mine Sarah Underwood taught me some tricks that really helps. Take deep breaths but train yourself to do this each time you ride as it becomes second nature. Also, when I have my headset on and I’m in the warm up arena she keeps saying funny things and this takes my mind off it.
Your Top Tip
Don’t forget it is meant to be FUN!! Take time to have fun and enjoy what you do. Remember that you started riding for the love of it!
The Final Furlong
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
Heike Holstein’s (Irish Olympian) mare sambuca. She is a stunning horse which I have had the privilege of seeing her before.
Who is your equestrian rider hero?
This is a hard one as there are so many amazing riders out there both able-bodied and disabled that I look up to. But Para Irish Rider Helen Kearney who I met when I was 4 years old would be number one. She let me wear her London Paralympic medal which planted the seed in my head.
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
Carl Hester, Stephen King, Clare Balding (I have met Clare but would love to sit down and talk about her books) Gandhi and King Charles II