An In depth look
The story of @para jockey’s, ‘One Hand One Dream ‘, is not one looking for sympathy, but a story of inspiration, determination and courage. Some things in life for whatever reason are beyond our ordinary understanding. Paths are laid out, call it fate, destiny...... “the yellow brick road.” or indeed something in the blood.
Harry, at the earliest age had a passion for horses, from having his first little ride on a donkey in Ireland at 8 months old, to as a toddler going crazy on his rocking horse and up to of course now, Harry is in pursuit of becoming the first mainstream jockey with upper limb deficiency.
Harry pushing up through the ages of 4-6 still had a desire to ride horses, Harrys parents took him to North Cray & Sidcup Riding School, although he really enjoyed it, he had zero confidence.
In the early ages Harry was aware of his difference. Harry would not allow himself to progress and he held himself back, it became clear Harry would not push himself forward, so we took him away from riding and tried to concentrate on school and tutoring.
Harry's school life passed quick enough and was fast-approaching exams stage, it was abundantly clear that Harry not being academic and having been passed from pillar to post at school was being set up to fail in education.
Harry is not academic, like thousands of other kids and that is ok. Although in life, you do not know that it is ok until one leaves the education system. The trouble is that when you are in school for the first 12 years of one's life, you are taught that if you cannot answer tests and meet basic academic requirements, you will be a complete failure in life.
One is absolutely crushed, stripped of all confidence and self-esteem, ideas are brushed aside and for years treated as though they were ‘stupid’ and shunned by the education system. like thousands of children are year in year out.
However just because one is not academic; does not mean one is stupid, which is what this system is teaching our young, non – academic people.
Harry was recommended for a mentoring program with Urban Synergy where they stripped down all the exam preparation to what Harry wanted to do with his life and to start to concentrate on that. The first thing Harry said was that he had a love for horses.
Harry's mentor done some research and discovered that there has never been a Jockey in mainstream racing that has had an upper limb deficiency. He was told about how Captain Guy Disney had done it and won big races with the lower limb, but it had never been done, to the best of our knowledge with the upper body.
Arrangements were made to visit the British Racing School on one of their open days and Harry instantly fell in love with the place, as parents we could see and feel that this is where Harry needed to go to learn. Harry was invited to attend a week's stay to get a feel for what is involved on a day-to-day basis.
Harry was still 15 years old at this point and had to complete his secondary school, which gave us time to find and get him into a local yard, “saddles Riding Centre”, Bexley, to train without a prosthetic.
Harry pushed himself hard, over the next 6 months to a year and got himself up to a decent standard, it became obvious that Harry had reached the point where he needed to progress to the next level.
We applied to get Harry on a 9-week course at The British Race School (BRS), and at first, they were very reluctant to give Harry a go. After some negotiation, the BRS was willing to let Harry join course 344, on the basis that if they felt at any time safety became a concern, Harry’s riding would be stopped. Which is fair enough, there are other riders and the safety of staff as well as the horses to consider.
Harry, without a prosthetic hand, impressively, managed to get halfway through 9-week intensive course, 344, before he was stopped riding. Harry remained on the course but as a non –rider.
Instructors had observed, through highly trained eyes that Harry would have to let go of the reins completely, for just a fraction of a second, to adjust the tightness of the reins during a ride and when one is riding a magnificent beast with incredible power, such as a prime race horse, a fraction of a second is all it takes to lose control and have minor, life changing or in the worst situation fatal accident to oneself, other riders and horses.
BRS instructors established that Harry would without question need a prosthetic devise to progress through and go on to graduate any of the courses.
Attempts were made by the NHS, lolly pop sticks and some other extremely basic ideas were tried and tested but to no avail. The NHS tried and had done all they could, we needed something more advanced and something completely bespoke.
This kind of prosthetic had never, to the best of our knowledge, been made before, so there is no model to follow.
The nine-week course ended, and we found ourselves at a standstill. Harry was not allowed to graduate but had gained vital experience and crucial confidence riding racehorses.
Both Harry's parents had no idea where to start with a design concept for a would-be prosthesis and realised very quickly that they needed someone who could ride to try and help produce an idea. We reached out to so many people, but to no success.
Unexpectedly, one day we received an email from amateur jockey Andrew Braithwait who is also the financial director at the British Racing School, he approached us in his own free time. Having met and seen Harry in action he was inspired to produce a plausible concept design that he thought could work.
Andrew, along with his friend Alex, who is an engineer worked out how to power the electromagnet design and developed the paramount safety trigger with some bits and pieces from D.I.Y shops.
The safety system is such that if Harry should fall from the horse, he needs to be able to completely detach with in an instant. Power is cut to the magnet as soon as the wire breaks, it is a similar system to the jet ski cord engine cut out feature.
We had a fundraiser for the first prosthetic, Harry started the newly developed 18-week course, 351.
Andrew's idea having now been realised was being put through its paces, it broke down a few times but with the benefit of an 18-week course we had all the necessary time to mend and make all adjustments required along the way.
Riding 2 sometimes 3 lots a day Harry’s new prosthetic hand stood up to the demands of the course and Harry made history by becoming the first prosthetic graduate at the British Racing School.
After a short break at home Harry went for a trial at Lawney Hills, where he endured a season at a point-to-point yard. Harry faced and overcame many challenges during his time at Lawneys.
The one main thing that was still holding him back was the prosthesis, it just could not take the rigours of riding; the arm would break down regularly and it became clear that the devise needed to be a lot more robust and much lighter in weight to withstand riding 5 or 6 lots a day, along with riding stronger horses which as a result damaged the wiring.
Harry, now 18, has moved to Newmarket and is currently working at Morgan Evans Equestrian as a ground staff worker. We are waiting on the new concept to be built.
This is all part of prosthetic life, and we have now reached a point where we have sought out an engineering company to take on the challenge of building something that can withstand the strains and stress’ of horse racing.
Like we have said there is no model to follow, we are completely feeling around in the dark. Which means every idea, to see what works, must be built, and put through a series of tests before it can be put into practise and introduced into an everyday working environment, to progress and ride as safe as possible it is imperative Harry has complete confidence in his prosthetic hand.
The only way to test durability is over the course of time and we will not know how robust the devise is until it is in full operation and of course over a considerable period with little or no maintenance, there will be some standard maintenance and servicing, as with any mechanical devise, but for the prosthesis to be considered a success this must be kept to a reasonable minimum.
Harry will need at least 2 devices to keep up working and learning efficiently once the optimum prosthesis has been acquired and he still has a lot of growing to do, so he will probably go through quite a few arms until he hits his early 20’s.
We are super excited to see and test out Harrys new prosthetic, which is currently under production, we cannot wait to share the outcome (updates on home page) with you all.
We genuinely believe that sports, whatever the discipline brings people of all races, creeds, religious beliefs, together as one. We believe sport unites generations and nations and includes people of all ability's, professionals, armatures, and hobbyists alike for a common love of a sport which breaks down barriers on so many levels.
This opens doors for all kinds of possibilities and encourages growth, respect, compassion, understanding and innovation.
All differences are put aside and conquered with a universal passion, Love and inclusiveness for sports that very often captivates and inspires the very best sides of Humanity and allows aspirations to flourish.
The legacy of Harry’s one hand one dream journey will hopefully inspire and encourage other like bodied people to chase their dreams.
If you have any quires, please contact Michelle or James Enright firstname.lastname@example.org