Horse rider Izzy sets her sights on Tokyo 2020

A teenage horse rider on a mission to compete in the Paralympics hopes to inspire others with cerebral palsy.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 5:00 pm
DREAM: Para Dressage rider Izzy Palmer, 19, is vying to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Izzy Palmer, 19, is chasing her dream to qualify for the Para Dressage at Tokyo 2020.

The horsewoman was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth. It causes right-sided hemiplegia, a weakness which affects certain movements.

Izzy has been riding since the age of two as a form of physiotherapy.

TEAM: Izzy Palmer in her Great Britain riding kit. Picture: James Hardisty.

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Her ambition to compete at the highest level was sparked by the treble medal-winning performance of Sophie Wells at the 2012 Paralympics.

Sophie has gone on to coach and mentor Izzy, and even lent the horse on which she rode to Paralympic glory.

Since then Izzy has risen through the grades to as high as fourth in the world rankings. She has also represented Great Britain several times.

And now Izzy believes it is her turn to “inspire others with the condition to lead an active and fulfilled life”.

ROLE MODEL: Izzy Palmer, who has cerebral palsy, hopes her horse riding success story will inspire others with the condition.

She added: “Sport is one of those things that can help people so much. It has given me such a focus throughout my younger life, and going through school balancing everything.

“It develops you as a person and gives you the drive and the determination.

“It makes you almost forget. If I didn’t have sport in my life maybe I would think more of my disability. I’d think about things in every day life that I can’t do as much. Whereas with the riding and doing a sport that is kind of put behind you. No one is highlighting that part, they are thinking of everything you can do.

“For me it is a massive part of what I do, I would encourage people with cerebral palsy to give sport a go.”

FAMILY: Leeds equestrian Izzy Palmer, left, with her mum Caroline, and pet, Dasher.

Izzy is busy preparing for her Tokyo campaign and is focusing on qualifying events and finding new “horsepower”.

She has an up and coming horse called Bolly but needs another horse for her quest as organisers prefer competitors to have two rides in case one gets injured.

Her mum Caroline estimates the cost of running two competition horses at more than £30,000. She said the choice now was to buy another horse or to find someone who is willing to lend her daughter a ride, something which Izzy has relied on in the past.

Caroline said: “Unfortunately it is a really expensive sport and a lot of it has been charity and good will.”

She is currently sending out a sponsorship document to companies called: “Izzy Palmer, an ordinary girl with an extraordinary dream’ to raise awareness and to drum up funds.

The mum praised her daughter’s commitment to the cause. Izzy travels to Newark to ride - a 160-mile round trip that she has done for four years. The former St Mary’s Menston Catholic Voluntary Academy student used to have to juggle it around her studying, and now has to fit it in with work commitments.

Mum Caroline said Izzy rarely had a day off and she often got up at 5am to chase her dream of competing in the Tokyo and other competitions like the European Championships, the World Equestrian Games and the 2024 Paris Paralympics.

Caroline added: “I’m really proud of Izzy. She has never let the disability stand in her way at all. It hasn’t been an easy journey. It has taken a lot of time and commitment. She is a real hard worker, never complains and just gets on with it. Izzy appreciates every single bit of help she has been given. She’s a good girl.”

Anyone who want to help or sponsor Izzy should email:


A Leeds law firm has been backing Izzy Palmer’s Tokyo 2020 quest through a series of fundraising events.

The Rawdon teenager is being supported by specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell in her bid to ride in the Parlympics.

The law firm has a long-standing commitment to supporting disability sport through its Don’t Quit, Do It initiative, which is backed by the likes of multiple gold-medal winning Paralympic star Hannah Cockroft MBE and aims to promote the benefits of being active.

Rachelle Mahapatra, a partner and specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, said: “Izzy is such an inspiration and shows that having a disability doesn’t need to stop you from following your dreams.

“Of course she has to deal with the challenges posed by her condition, but she is determined not to let it stand in her way.”

“We have been supporting Izzy over the past few months in her fund-raising efforts to help her get to Tokyo and we would love to see her showcase her talents at the games.

Rachelle has done several long distance walks to raise funds for Izzy in recent years. Irwin Mitchell’s Court of Protection team also provided a further £1,000 sponsorship to help her with the ongoing costs of training. Izzy has also received help from Irwin Mitchell’s Assett Management Team and an ex employee of Irwin Mitchell also ran the London for Izzy in April.