When Laura Goodall was diagnosed with MS in 2015, she thought her showjumping days might be over. But, four years later, Laura is back competing across the country and has recently been accepted onto the British Showjumping Para team. “The buzz I get from being back doing what I love is amazing,” she tells us.
I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2015 and to say my world came crashing down would be an understatement. My life had always revolved around my horses and my love for competing in showjumping so the future didn’t look bright.
My diagnosis took over a year from when I first started having issues. When I was competing, my vision would blur, my muscles would go weak and I would fall off the side of the horse for no reason as soon as my core temperature raised. I would struggle to walk and started having panic attacks. After many tests and scans, the MS diagnosis came as a massive shock, although I was relieved to have answers. By this point my symptoms had progressed and I could no longer compete. I struggled to care for the horses never mind ride, as my lack of balance, muscle weakness and dizziness took hold - it seemed that show jumping would remain a distant memory. One side of my body kept letting me down and depression started to kick in. It took a long time to accept the diagnosis, but once I started to focus on what I could do rather than what I couldn’t, things got better. With my new positive attitude, I decided that I was not going to let MS beat me or rule my life! My passion was my horses and so I was determined to get back doing what I loved.
I turned my attention to what could help with my MS, so I started by trying to get fit and improve my overall health. I got myself a personal trainer to help with my lifestyle, we have found ways of doing different exercises that are more difficult with my MS and my fitness has improved massively. I see Emma twice a week and couldn’t be more grateful for the help she has provided, helping me gain better strength and fitness. I also visit a chiropractor a minimum of once a week (more if I’m relapsing) to keep my body in the best possible condition and keep everything working as it should. I would recommend anyone with MS to have regular visits to professionals, get as active and healthy as possible and use as many muscle groups as you can, as often as you can because like they say, ‘use it or lose it’ and I for sure am determined not to lose it!
The results I have achieved and the position I am now in, is a dream come true and I honestly didn’t think it would ever be possible again. I couldn’t be prouder of what I have accomplished considering my circumstances and would urge anyone with a passion or a dream to keep trying
In the process, I set my mind to fundraising. I wanted to raise as much money for the charities that have been a massive support for me and my family since my diagnosis. Over the last two years I have raised over £11,000 for various charities and aim to continue my fundraising efforts. In 2018, I walked 250 miles in the month of May to raise money for the MS Trust Miles for MS fundraiser and raised £1,039.44, this was a great challenge both physically and mentally but so very rewarding when I had completed it!
I started back riding, by going for small walks on my horse and built this up gradually. The more I did, the better it got. In October 2017, three years after my last show, I was able attend my first showjumping competition. All of the hard work and effort paid off and it was a successful show! The buzz I got from proving everyone wrong and being back doing what I loved was amazing - so much so that I cried with joy!
Since then, I’ve kept going and continue to build on my weaknesses and try not to get too disheartened when things don’t go to plan. I have since invested in a whole new ‘cooling’ kit to keep my core temperature lower and reduce the muscle issues when I’m competing. Granted, I’ve had many bad days and struggled to even tack a horse up on occasions, but I’ve always said, anything is better than nothing, so even a quick walk around the arena is more than I could have done a few years back! It is a mammoth task carrying out such a strenuous sport with such weaknesses, but I like a challenge and am strong-minded enough to keep going!
Four years on I am just as dedicated, I have regular dressage and showjumping lessons and am now back competing properly, doing what I love! I have been accepted onto the British Showjumping Para team and get to compete alongside other people in similar situations to myself as well as able-bodied competitions.
The results I have achieved and the position I am now in, is a dream come true and I honestly didn’t think it would ever be possible again. I couldn’t be prouder of what I have accomplished considering my circumstances and would urge anyone with a passion or a dream to keep trying, work hard and you will achieve it! Never give up and certainly never, ever let MS beat you!
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