A DISABLED rider is making her equestrian dream a reality after being selected to represent the North West in a national competition.

Sarah Underwood, aged 33, will take on Team GB para-dressage riders at the 2012 Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) National Championships on July 15 after shining at regional qualifiers earlier this year.

Ms Underwood’s disability came as a result of complications after routine surgery on a sports injury in 2007, leaving her with nerve damage in her left leg.

She narrowly avoided having her left leg amputated, which would have dashed her dressage hopes, but now Ms Underwood is determined to achieve her goal.

She said: “I think because of my professional background in clinical psychology, I was able to cope with the rehab.

“I know I am very, very lucky to be in a position to live in a country where there are opportunities for disabled people.

“I am a very determined person and people always tell me I’m so positive, but to me life is great.

“You have to make opportunities for yourself and make them happen. Ms Underwood, from Ainsworth, is currently studying to become riding instructor at Myerscough College in Preston and is the only competitor in her grade to qualify to represent the North West.

As she does not have her own horse, she will compete on a borrowed horse for the RDA Championship in Gloucester, starting on Friday July 13 and still needs a sponsor.

The former Saint Monica High School pupil is funding her training through part-time work.

“The horse I’m riding is in Gloucestershire so I want to try to ride once a week before the competition, but obviously it costs quite a lot of money to get there,” she added.

“In a way, being disabled has created so many opportunities I would not have had — that’s just my outlook on life.

“But I think it’s a real shame when disabled athletes come across financial barriers and I’m determined to change that.

“For me this another exciting challenge.

“I would love to make it to Brazil in 2016 and I would do whatever it takes to get there.”

If any businesses or individuals are interested in sponsoring Ms Underwood, call 01995 642241.