A Canberra public servant battling a debilitating illness plans to undertake a grueling endurance ride to raise money for a mental health charity.
Courtney Chapman from the Australian National Audit Office suffers from autoimmune illness Crohn’s disease, and has had her own demons to overcome, but she is not letting that stop her doing her bit for LIVIN, which aims to break the stigma and silence around mental health.
The 27-year-old Downer woman will attempt to ride 400 kilometres from 27 to 31 August in the Shahzada endurance event held in the Hawkesbury area of St Albans in New South Wales.
“It is a test of spirit, strength, resilience and communication with a creature with whom we share our life during the long hours and miles of training and competition. Spirit, strength and resilience are things you need to battle mental health challenges,” Courtney says.
She says one in five young people experience a mental health challenge in any one year and many suffer in silence due to stigma and misunderstanding.
“LIVIN is helping to change this. Over 40,000 young people have been reached through their amazing work, and I want to support them in helping even more people,” Courtney says.
“This organisation is very close to my heart as I have personally dealt with mental illness and have felt the effects of the stigma associated with speaking up.”
Helping her make the ride is Cowra stud Kintamani Arabians, which breeds endurance horses and will be providing her mount, Kintamani Kimbra, and support on the ride.
Courtney requires regular drug treatment for Crohn’s disease at Canberra Hospital. “To me, this ride is about overcoming adversity and to show that even from your lowest points, you can still come out the other side and achieve anything you set your mind to,” she says.
Her support crew includes Helen Lindsay who runs Kintamani Arabians with her husband Alan Lindsay, who will also ride with her.
“The support crew will assist with getting the horse through vet checks and making sure I am fed and watered too. I will also have a soft tissue therapist called Erin Webber from Gold Coast equine therapy who I have employed for the week to work on the horse’s muscles and my own,” she says.
She has just had her eight-weekly medication infusion on 26 July and will have to be aware of any emerging symptoms, particularly fatigue, and manage her nutrition with supplements.
Courtney has been training Kintamani Kimbra all year and they have competed in two 80 km rides already, with another planned for this weekend at Nelligan.
“It’s important to have a good bond established with a horse you’re going to ask to do such a mammoth task with you,” she says.
Riding for 17 years, Courtney owned her own horses until 2016 but now she solely trains and competes for Kintamani Arabians.
Courtney has already raised over $2800. To support her, go to her fundraising page, https://give.everydayhero.com/au/400km-marathon-ride-for-livin and Instagram @court_chappington