1. ITV Report

Paralympian seeks new horse for Tokyo 2020

Deborah Criddle and her 'beloved' LJT Akilles. Credit: PA

Dressage rider Deborah Criddle from Taunton has had a long and medal-winning partnership with LJT Akilles but he is due to retire this year.

Deb was pony mad as a child but it wasn't until she had a terrible car crash as a teenager that her thoughts turned to the world of horses for her future.

At 19 years of age, I had a catastrophic road traffic accident. I was crushed and sustained serious injuries to the right side of my body, which included 6 fractures in the leg and a paralysed arm, which has since been amputated. I felt completely broken and uncertain of what my future would hold.

Painful months of recovery became years of hiding away from the world. I realised I desperately needed to reconnect with the person I had been before, so I turned to my love of horses in the hope that I could ‘find myself’ again.

– Deborah Criddle, Equestrienne

Since then, after getting help to adapt to her disability, Deb has represented Great Britain at European, World and Paralympic Games. She is the only rider in the world to have achieved triple gold medal wins at three consecutive Championships with the same horse. But now she needs a new horse so that she can compete at the 2020 Paralympics.

Deborah won Team gold and two individual silvers on LJT Akilles at London 2012. Credit: PA

Deb has set up a crowd-funding page to pay for a new horse to fulfil her Tokyo 2020 dreams. She has written this message:

My beloved dancing partner LJT Akilles, who won team gold as well as two individual silver medals in London 2012 is now 18 years old and in his last year of international competition. I am facing the threat of losing my place on the team to represent our country, and I am desperately hoping to keep making dreams a reality.

My bid to stay in the top flight is going to challenge me utterly - I am still getting riding scores at competition that put me in contention, but that is not my biggest challenge. I have spent years being proudly independent, and now I need to ask for help.

I have worked so hard for so long and I am not yet ready to give it all up, I need to find another horse to work with and you could share my road to Tokyo!

If I am unable to raise £25,000 by the end of April to enable me to find a new partner then my amazing journey will have to end. I’d love for you to come and join me in my quest for Gold.

– Deborah Criddle, Equestrienne