Horse rider’s determination trumps epilepsy, says stable owner

May 2, 2013

May 2, 2013 — Susy Niles says she wasn’t scared the first time she saw Lia Turner have a seizure while riding her horse — to the contrary, she understood what was happening.

Lia Turner is seen here riding her horse, Echo.
Lia Turner is seen here riding her horse, Echo.

Niles, the owner of Iron Horse Equestrian, where Turner rides, says she was able to remain calm during the episode because Turner and her mother had explained that the 16-year-old horse rider has epilepsy and how they should react if she has a seizure while riding.

Since Turner can feel a seizure coming on, she stops the horse, dismounts and finds a safe place, while others stay with her, says Niles.

Turner’s horse, Echo, reacted calmly to the situation and stopped immediately the first time Niles witnessed Turner having a seizure, she adds.

“It wasn’t scary because of the nature of the horse that she owns — which is a very good horse,” says Niles. “Animals can sense danger with humans and they’re pretty good at reacting.”

Niles says Turner, whom she characterizes as “an excellent rider,” has had strong communication with her to help work around any issues arising from her epilepsy. For example, she only rides at specific times of the day, because she can be more prone to seizures at certain hours.

Niles has also taken time to educate herself about seizure disorders because she has a relative with the neurological disorder, she says noting that everyone at Iron Horse is comfortable with the fact that one of their riders has epilepsy.

There’s a valuable lesson to be learned by Turner’s example and that’s that if a person has epilepsy or another disability there’s no reason they can’t follow their passions and interests, says Niles.

All they have to do is make others aware and help them understand.

“We completely understand (Turner’s epilepsy) and I have no doubt at all that we would never be in a dangerous situation, because Lia has a good grasp on epilepsy and how it affects her, and so does her mother and so do we.”

But it has been Turner’s determination to follow her passion is that has truly enabled her to be able to ride, Niles says.

“It was largely because of Lia and her mother’s determination to try to stabilize (her epilepsy) and work with it — they are the ones that are determined, they’re not the quitters.”

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Writer: Deron Hamel

* If you wish to reprint this story, please include following notice: “This story originally appeared on the Epilepsy Ontario website.”

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