A young one-handed rider from London is breaking down boundaries, having successfully graduated from the British Racing School (BRS) in Newmarket. Harry, 17, who rides with a prosthetic arm recently completed the 18 week foundation course that prepares young riders for a career in horse racing and is now working at trainer Lawney Hill’s racing stables in Oxfordshire as a work rider.
Harry was born with one hand and has always had a love of horses and riding. Having first sat on a donkey at eight months old on holiday in Ireland, his parents turned to the British Racing School when he decided he wanted to pursue a career in racing.
Harry said, “When I was younger I was quite into football and it got to the point where I thought I could either continue playing that, work in an office or try and make something of myself. I’ve always loved horses and decided I wanted to take that further and get into racing so I came to the British Racing School. There is Guy Disney who rides with a lower limb prosthetic but we weren’t aware of anyone else who rode with a prosthetic arm.
“I started out at the British Racing School doing a nine-week course and then came back for the 18 week course with loads of riding and mucking out. Together with the BRS and Steve Cox and the team at Dorset Orthopaedic we have created a prosthetic which allows me to safely ride racehorses.
“The prosthetic is made of silicon which slides onto my arm and there is a magnet at the end which attaches to the reins. A power circuit keeps it in place and if I fall off the circuit is broken, releasing the magnet so that I don’t get caught up in the reins dragged along.”
Andrew Braithwaite, Finance Director at the BRS who has been instrumental in developing the bespoke prosthetic said, “We’ve been working with Harry to create a prosthetic which has allowed him to ride racehorses so that not only has he been safe but all the other horses and riders with him have been safe as well. The key was to find a solution that didn’t require the horses to adapt to the way Harry was riding. Thanks to Harry’s determination and natural ability this has been achieved. It has been great to see him successfully complete the course and go on to full time employment.”
Michelle, Harry’s mother said, “We are extremely proud of Harry. Behind all of this for him to inspire others like him to never give up on your dreams to really put yourself out there and keep trying. We’re in the 21st century and he wants to show that anything is possible. We are so proud of him with his determination to fight for the dream that he wants.”
Having graduated, Harry is now working at Lawney Hill’s racehorse yard in Oxfordshire. He said, “Everyone has their bigger goal of where they want to be. The biggest goal for me is probably trying to be a jockey. For now, I’m just taking it step by step. My next goal was to get into the workplace and I’ve achieved that and now it’s just continuing to move forwards towards my dreams.”
Lawney Hill said: “Harry is hard-working, cheeky and dedicated and he’s determined not to let anything get in his way. We are so impressed with his riding ability and his manner with the horses and he has been a brilliant addition to our team since he has joined us.”
The team are continuing to develop and improve the prosthetic. If people would like to contribute to this process, please contact Andrew Braithwaite at the British Racing School.