Jockey whose severe eczema made him allergic to horses defies odds

The jockey who is allergic to horses! Eczema sufferer, 23, who broke in out sores when he rode becomes a professional after miracle drug trial 

  • Harrison Shaw was in and out of hospital as a child when parents kept horses 
  • Parents, of North Yorkshire, encouraged him to take part in drug research trial 
  • Within six weeks he became apprentice jokey and has now had 39 winners  

A jockey who is allergic to horses has defied the odds to become a top racer after taking part in a miracle drug trial. 

Harrison Shaw, 23, always dreamed of becoming a jockey but his eczema meant any contact with horses would leave him covered in painful sores.

His parents Andy and Debbie, of Easingwold, North Yorkshire, kept horses throughout his childhood, but were devastated by the effect they had on him.

Desperate to help him achieve his dream they encouraged him to take part in an allergy research trial four years ago.

Harrison Shaw, 23, always dreamed of becoming a jockey but his eczema meant any contact with horses would leave him covered in painful sores. He has now ridden 39 winners 

A young Harrison Shaw is pictured with one of his horses 

Within six weeks of starting the programme, Harrison had become an apprentice jockey.

Now on 39 winners, his allergy levels have reduced to just 30 per cent.      

He told the Daily Star: ‘I’ve had allergic reactions all my life, not just with horses, but also with dogs, cats, bark, pollen and trees.

‘It’s an awful thing as they are all around you but much worse if your dream job is to be a jockey.’

Pictured: Harrison Shaw after one of his 39 wins 

In action: Harrison is pictured competing in a showjumping tournament 

A year after signing up to the trial he won his first race, and looks set for further success. 

The drug used in the trial is called Dupilumab and has now been approved for use on adult NHS patients with moderate to severe skin allergies. Further research is required for use on children. 

Professor Michael Cork, a consultant dermatologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals told the newspaper: ‘He is so dedicated to his horseracing that his allergy to horses has gone from more than 100 per cent to less than 30 per cent – he can even hug a horse now.’ 


Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin that leads to redness, blistering, oozing, scaling and thickening.

It usually appears in the first few months of life and affects around 10 per cent of babies.

Eczema’s cause is not fully understood but it is thought to be brought on by the skin’s barrier to the outside world not working properly, which allows irritants and allergy-inducing substances to enter.

It may be genetic due to the condition often running in families.

As well as their skin being affected, sufferers may experience insomnia and irritability.

Many factors can make eczema worse. These may include:

  • Heat, dust, soap and detergents
  • Being unwell, such as having a cold
  • Infections
  • Dry skin
  • Stress

There is no cure for eczema, however, 70 per cent of childhood sufferers no longer have the condition in their teens.

Patients should avoid known triggers for flare ups and use emollients.

Source: British Skin Foundation 

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