Amanda Firman, 51, from Hartfield, East Sussex, suffers from the debilitating disease ME but was a competitor in the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) final of the SEIB Insurance Brokers Search for a Star series in October 2015. However, she knew her weight — then around 20 stone — was exacerbating her health problems.
She was also concerned that it was too much for her horse, Palladian, to carry without causing him discomfort.
So Amanda, who works part-time at a nursing home and a local doctors’ surgery to fund her hobby, underwent gastric bypass surgery and is now eight stone lighter. With a new horse, Foxy, she is looking forward to taking on the professionals in the show ring in 2018.
“The operation has been life-changing for me — I have the reassurance that I will never be too heavy for my horses and cause them any health issues due to my weight,” she said. “I am also virtually pain-free.
“I still suffer from ME and used to eat sweet things to try to get some energy — but even this has improved following the weight loss. It also means I can ride properly now — before, I used to just sit there and would be exhausted after a few minutes.
“Unfortunately, the SEIB rules state that no one can compete in the Search For A Star series more than once, but I am really looking forward to the season ahead and will try my best to get to HOYS with Foxy in open classes.”
SEIB marketing director Nicolina MacKenzie added:
“As a company, we applaud Amanda’s determination and are delighted to have launched her career in the show ring.”