Ashleigh Harley – The Dark Horse
Emma Lowe Horse Photography Behind the scenes Photography for this inspirational young lady, with Joseph & Laura Stockdale.
Get out your popcorn and hit the cinema seats because the new equestrian movie ‘The Dark Horse’ is set to be released this summer!
Following the story of a young girl ‘Ashleigh Harley’s’ wish to overcome devastating invisible illness and get the sport ‘para showjumping’ recognised at the World Paralympic Games, we met with Ashleigh to hear all about it:
“This film began when my illness put me in a wheelchair. I felt as through I was living two lives, the life society has expected of me, and then the reality of who I am.
When I was 12 years old I faced the world changing in a way I had never foreseen and was diagnosed with a rare genetic tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. There is no cure for my condition. For two years now I have been unable to eat or digest solid foods, X-Rays show the extent to which my spine has deformed and every day my family and I face the fear that my blood pressure might drop so low that I will lose consciousness and need immediate medical attention.
Life does not unfold in a way we might expect, but from these experiences there is always opportunity to grow. After almost losing my life to a near fatal allergic reaction to an IV morphine drip in hospital, it was clear something needed to change. I couldn’t live like that anymore.
So we set out to make showjumping a Paralympic sport.
Whilst my legs often became too weak to walk, I found freedom on the back of a horse and rediscovered a passion for life that I had long believed was over. Realizing that disability did not mean inability, we gathered together as a film crew and set out to film people from all walks of life. All with the challenge of disability.
Amidst the filming, we stopped rolling the cameras, simultaneously we had all realised an important message was screaming to be delivered —
That even though what we saw down the lens was the physical pain of disability, we all shared this very same pain. We all shared this suffering in our lives despite the differences in types of challenges we face. We realised that no-matter the adversity; the pain; or the suffering; this was a gift each person is given to unlock their potential, and make something truly incredible of their lives.
So this is my message to anybody who might be struggling with their own pain. Nomatter the type, visibility or invisibility; physical, emotional or situational nature of the suffering; you can always make your dreams happen.
There’s an exciting world waiting out there for you.
And that’s why I started making this film, not only to tackle the fear and loneliness that my illness had caused, and my desire to live a fulfilling life doing what I love with the horses, but to reach others who certainly felt the same. Because we are never alone, our pain can connect us.
We all live with a type of pain in our lives. It doesn’t matter who you are. Rich or poor, healthy or sick we are all dealing with some kind of adversity. There is no kind of adversity that is different or more difficult than the other. They all hurt. They all present challenge.
Each are made equal.
Therefore it is our adversity in life that connects us as a humanity. It is the key to living a fulfilling life. It is what makes a person strong. Powerful. Unstoppable. Unbeatable.
So don’t run away from your pain. Use it. Learn how to wield it. Use your greatest pain to become your greatest strength.
In the same way a swordsmith smelts the steel of his sword to smith into a powerful weapon, and in the same way a blacksmith shapes a horseshoe with the hit of a hammer – use your challenges and adversity in life to shape yourself. To strengthen yourself.
Iron is not strengthened lying around in inertia. If left like this, it rusts. It only becomes stronger when refined by fire.
Therefore each time the hammer of misfortune strikes, yes, it’s going to hurt, but perhaps that is no bad thing. Let it shape you. Let it strengthen you. Let it make you into something more powerful, more formidable, and more perfect.
In the light of the darkness there is always something to be thankful for. There is ALWAYS something incredible to MAKE with both the good and the bad in life. And because of this I can’t wait for the year ahead when we can finally give this message to the world!
You can do great things with the ‘bad luck’ life has given you. So go out and make something awesome with it. Go make your dreams happen.”
Emma Lowe Photography Ltd