Disabled rider on target for London 2012 Paralympics

Dressage girl Sophie Wells
Dressage girl Sophie Wells

A DISABLED rider who trains out of stables in Papplewick has become a world and European equestrian champion — after overcoming an allergy to horses!

Sophie Wells (21), who rides from the Angela Weiss Stables on Mansfield Road, now has her sights set on the Paralympic Games.

In September, she competed in the para-equestrian dressage category at the European Championships in Belgium and came home with a hat-trick of gold medals.

Now she is excitedly preparing for the Paralympics, which will run alongside the Olympic Games in London next year.

Sophie (pictured), who lives in Newark, is expected to be a certainty for selection for the Great Britain team. Officially, the team won’t be announced until the New Year but she has already qualified.

Her achievements are a far cry from when she was just six and first took up horse-riding.

Firstly, she had to overcome the fact that she was born with amniotic band syndrome, which is a condition caused in the womb and results in problems with a child’s fingers and toes because of restricted blood flow.

Sophie lost some of her fingers but surgeons were able to save her feet, which has enabled her to launch her sparkling riding career.

The next hurdle to jump as a youngster was contending with sneezing and watering eyes whenever she was on a horse.

But Sophie has remained determined. In a recent interview, she said: “My legs have deteriorated as I’ve grown up. It is a little frustrating but it makes me appreciate the good days.

“I can still ride, which is amazing.”

From the age of 13, Sophie has had a long-term ambition to be part of London 2012.

She competes in grade IV of para-equestrian dressage, which is for the least-disabled riders.