Born in Shropshire, Ricky Balshaw is an Equestrian Para Dressage rider who represented Great Britain in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics winning a Silver medal in dressage.
Ricky was born with Cerebral Palsy, which has restricted the muscle movement and mobility in his upper legs and hands, which in turn means he has very little natural balance, a key requirement to become an accomplished Equestrian rider. With what balance he does have, Ricky has been taught through physiotherapy to walk with the aid of two sticks.
At the age of 4, his physiotherapist recommended that he take up horse riding as part of his physio rehabilitation. Confused at such a tender age, he decided to give it ago and started riding at the Brockton Court RDA Group (Riding For The Disabled Association) where it was soon evident he was a naturally gifted rider despite his disability. At the age of 10, he was elected for potentially life threatening surgery which resulted in his back being surgically opened up and then artificially stimulating his nerve endings. The surgery could have at best left him unable to walk and at worst he may not have survived. Thankfully it was a success but it meant Ricky had to learn all over again to walk and ride again.
In 2002, Ricky made his Para Equestrian debut and in 2003 was made a member of the British Team. At the age of 14 he was put into the World Class program. It wasn’t until 2007 at the World Championships that Ricky would collect his first Bronze medal. His greatest achievement came in 2008 at the Beijing Paralympics where he collected a Silver medal coming second alongside fellow Midlands Air Ambulance ambassador Lee Pearson MBE OBE CBE who collected Gold. He then went on to collect a Silver medal at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010 in Kentucky
In 2011 following a fall from his horse, Ricky literally broke his back and feared his career was over. Yet despite medical experts and their predictions he made a super human recovery. Ricky astonished doctors and was back in the saddle on his horse within 12 months and back in training, narrowly missing selection for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Back in training, Ricky picked up Silver in 2013 at the FEI European Championships in Denmark and is now working towards selection for the 2016 Summer Paralympics Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.