'I didn't think I'd be able to ride her again but she gave me the confidence'
Getting back in the saddle was a daunting task after she was diagnosed with a brain disease. But Paralympian Gerry Savage's faithful filly, Blue Tip Top Two, made her determined to return to form.
"After I was diagnosed I didn't think I'd be able to ride her again.
"But she gave me the confidence because I knew I was capable of doing it when I got her," said Gerry.
Femail chatted to the Foggathorpe jockey as she began her training at Greenwich Village – where she was due to take part in the dressage event, last Friday.
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"We just arrived yesterday and I've been familiarising myself with the Olympic Village," she said.
Before she collapsed six years ago, Gerry was able to ride freely, then she developed acute disseminated encephalomyelitis.
"It's a neurological condition which means I get very bad fatigue and it affects my balance and co-ordination."
Learning how to mount the horse in her condition was the biggest hurdle.
"It takes a couple of people to get me on, usually two.
"But the horse is usually very well behaved.
"Getting off is worse because my legs lock and they tend to spasm. It usually takes three to get me down and put me back in my mobility scooter or wheelchair."
Her horse is 12 now but Gerry's had her since she was a foal. Blue has always been very understanding and tries to make it as easy as possible for Gerry.
"I think she knows that I have a disability of some kind, she said. "She's laid-back, she doesn't jump around."
Competing in dressage was a learning curve for both horse and rider.
"She's not really a typical dressage horse."
Blue is an Irish Draught Cross, an unusual breed to be taking part in dressage, as they are usually used for showjumping.
"It was something neither of us knew how to do and we've learnt together.
"She gives me all she's got."
Taking part in her first Paralympics couldn't come at a better time, after the reception that dressage received at the Olympics.
Gerry, 55, was cheering on the British team.
"It was amazing, I just wanted to get there and get into the arena," she said.
Sitting in the saddle when her feet couldn't even reach the stirrups, Gerry Savage was born to ride.
"I was three when I first sat on a horse," she said.
But her early start is all the more surprising because her mum is terrified of horses and her dad is less than interested in them, too.
Gerry said: "My grandad had dray horses though, so there's always been a bit of a horsey connection."
Gerry had her first stallion at the age of 15.
Her love of horses has always been obvious but Gerry shied away from the spotlight, keeping the attention on her noble steeds.
Still with her own stables, Gerry took part in county shows, trotting her mounts around the arena, but never rode professionally.
That all changed when she collapsed six years ago.
What followed was an apprehensive struggle to deal with an illness she didn't even have a label for.
At first the hospital suspected it was meningitis, then multiple sclerosis. But four years ago they diagnosed Gerry with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis.
When she finally had a name for it, she thought her riding days were over.
Once she had been coaxed back into the saddle, she trained hard and took part in several dressage competitions.
Born in Dublin, Gerry has gone back to her roots and is representing Ireland in the London Paralympics.
She met the Irish team at a competition in Richmond and was surprised when she was approached to compete as the Paralympics were never the end goal for Gerry.
"It wasn't something I'd really thought about," she said.
Gerry has been in the Irish team for two years, so her first Paralympics will be a victory after four long years of hard work.
Cheering on from the crowd will be her retired firefighter husband Steve, daughter Ann-Marie and sons Brian and Darren.
How prepared did she feel, with the heats less than a week away?
Straight-talking as ever, she said: "There's always room for improvement."
But make no mistake, the duo still have fun and Gerry has a giggle with her routines to slapstick classics.
Their versions of the Laurel and Hardy, Steptoe and Son and Pink Panther theme tunes were definitely set to raise a smile from spectators.