A WOMAN who thought she would never ride again after she was dragged underneath a horse and had both legs amputated is back in the saddle and determined to compete at the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016.
Doctors told Jane Lishman that she should have died following horrific injuries suffered in September 2006.
Now 46, and confined to a wheelchair, she is winning competitions against able-bodied riders and has her sights set on securing a place on the GB Para Dressage team.
She had been worming a horse when a rope she was using rode up between her legs, spooking the horse which broke into a run and dragged her underneath it around a field, while the rope cut deeper into her groin.
The swift response of the Great North Air Ambulance Service was credited with saving the life of the former point-to-point yard worker, who spent a month in a coma and four months being treated in hospital.
As well as a collapsed lung she contracted a soil infection which resulted in the amputation of both her legs.
"At the end of the day I sort of died," said Miss Lishman. "I should have died. A doctor told me I should have died so this is a second chance."
After riding most of her life she was undaunted by her disabilities and desperate to rekindle her love of horses.
A long waiting list meant it took two years until she secured a place at the RDA Unicorn Centre in Middlesbrough.
A specialist mounting hoist enabled her to get onto a horse and soon she regained her balance and learnt how to trot all over again.
Although she had never ridden a dressage test before she won her first competition with the highest percentage.
"I was apprehensive, but I wasn't frightened about getting back on a horse again. People tell me I'm brave, but I don't think of myself as that," explained Miss Lishman, who lives with her partner in Darlington.
For the last three years she has competed in the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) National Championships at Hartpury, Gloucestershire, winning a number of medals.
At her first contest on new mare, Lily, she rode against able-bodied equestrians and won both classes.
"I couldn't believe it, she said. I was shocked that I could beat all these riders who had legs. It was an amazing feeling and a real boost."
Taking part in the national championships and competing against Paralympic champion, Natasha Baker, who scooped two golds at London 2012, has made her determined to qualify for Rio 2016, but she needs financial backing to help cover professional coaching and competition costs.
"I never thought I would be able to ride again. I never thought I would be doing what I'm doing now. Instead of just being stuck at home and not able to get out much this has given me a new life," she said.
"It is still difficult to bear weight on one leg making walking extremely difficult and therefore, wheelchair bound, a whole new life has begun. It's exciting to think I could get to the Paralympics.
"As the saying goes, You either get busy living or get busy dying."
To sponsor Miss Lishman visit Jane Lishman Para Dressage Rider page on Facebook or call Claire Pitt at the Unicorn Centre on 01642-576222.