Life-changing suit for talented horse woman
A made-to-measure orthotic suit is enabling a talented young woman to follow her dream of competing as a showjumper.
Ashleigh Harley was 12 years old when she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a genetic condition that can be chronically painful and cause joints to pop out of their sockets. The illness meant she could no longer attend school but, far from impeding her educational progress, Ashleigh has gone on to become an award-winning film-maker, budding writer and musician.
She is also an ambitious rider who hasn’t let EDS and scoliosis stop her from getting on a horse. To fulfil her dream of making showjumping a Paralympic sport and competing at that level herself, Ashleigh turned to DM Orthotics (DMO) for specialist help.
“They made me a full body suit that has been nothing short of life-changing,” she said. “It stops my joints dislocating, stabilises my blood pressure so I don’t pass out and realigns the curvature in my spine caused by scoliosis.
“The DMO staff who carried out my assessment were really understanding and made the whole experience very positive. They even did a 3D scan which made me feel as if I was starring in my own video game. The suit is made-to-measure and controls my body so well I can jump fences on my horse, enter competitions and lead the life I want to live.”
That life currently includes filming ‘The Dark Horse’ – a documentary that is being produced by an Oscar-winning team and that Ashleigh has devised and is directing. The film tackles the topic of having a chronic, often life-threatening and incurable condition and feeling pressure from society to hide it.
“Ashleigh is a truly remarkable young woman whose determination to make a difference is an inspiration to us all,” said DMO’s Chief Executive Officer Dan Severn. “It’s been a genuine pleasure to work with her and everyone at DMO is looking forward to seeing her new film and following her amazing equine successes. She is a role model – not just for those living with a disability but for everyone.”
As someone who believes ‘you don’t have to just cope, you can thrive’, Ashleigh says she can’t recommend DMO products highly enough.
“For those of us who have a disability but still want to achieve our ambitions, the expertise they provide is amazing and transformative.
“My life has changed dramatically and I can’t thank them enough.”