We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more
You are here:
> > > > Roberta's story – juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

Roberta's story – juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

Roberta and her horse WonderboyDespite experiencing pain, stiffness and swelling in nearly all of her joints most days, Roberta, known to her friends as Bert, doesn’t let anything get in the way of her love of horse riding.

After riding for Great Britain in 2011, her ambition now is to ride for her other nationality, Canada, in the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

Diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) when she was 15, doctors first put the pain and stiffness she felt in her fingers as common teenage ‘growing pains’ and prescribed her paracetamol.

Bert’s arthritis has worsened over the years, with her hands, ankles, ribs, neck and shoulder now particularly affected. The type of arthritis she has is systemic, which means that it affects all the tissues in her body, as well as her joints.

Having tried several different types of medication, Bert now takes anti-TNF drugs, which enable her to cope with the pain, stiffness and swelling her joints. Most importantly, the medication means she can continue to ride her horse, Wonderboy.

'Arthritis can certainly make riding my horses challenging, but I’ve learnt to adapt to the problems I’m faced with.'

Bert, who is 32 and lives in Lincolnshire, first started riding when she was four years old and last year won a place on the British Equestrian Federation’s Excel Talent Scheme.

Bert says 'I wouldn't have it any other way. I’ve ridden horses nearly all my life and my arthritis makes me even more determined to carry on and enjoy life.’


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis. Open Mon–Fri 9am–8pm.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

Virtual Assistant

Our new Arthritis Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to answer your arthritis related questions 24/7.

Ask a question
For more information, go to
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.