A BRAVE Dalgety Bay girl has got right back in the saddle after a shock diagnosis.

Freya Leitch is just five but last year she was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). She has smiled her way through treatments and is now back doing what she loves most, riding her pony, Darcy.

"She's a happy, smiley, confident little person," Freya's mum, Ainsley, said.

"She loves being busy and she loves her little pony, Darcy, who she rides most days a week. She likes to swim and dance and she loves being at school."

An active young girl, Freya sounds like every other child but, over the past year, she has endured countless treatments to get her health back to a place where she could continue to do what she loved.

Just one year ago, Freya was diagnosed with JIA after her mum took her to hospital for a sore foot.

Ainsley told the Press: "We actually got admitted for the night because they weren't sure what it was. They thought it was actually a bone infection or she had maybe fractured it so she had a night of X-rays but the next day the rheumatology consultant was on duty.

"She was doing her rounds and she said, 'We're not sure, but she is showing all the signs of having arthritis', and we thought, 'Arthritis! That's what grannies get!"

Shortly after receiving her diagnosis, Freya began to get treatment for her arthritis. Ainsley has said that she "can't fault" the treatment her daughter was given through the NHS.

She continued: "You hear all the negative aspects of our NHS service but we can't fault it with Freya. They've just been so on it from the first hour of us seeing the doctor that Friday night.

"They've just been so good and so supportive."

Since being diagnosed, Freya has had cannulas, intravenous steroids, joint injections and weekly injections that she gets from her rheumatology nurse, Angela, at the Queen Margaret Hospital. The two have developed a special bond and Angela's support has been invaluable for her and her family.

"Angela has just been fantastic and she is a great support for Freya, the two of them have a fantastic relationship.

"It's quite invasive treatment for her but she still manages to smile and get on with it. She is a very strong little person!"

The treatments, while invasive, have been successful and Freya is back to being her lively self.

"Last year, when she was diagnosed, she wasn't able to do all these things but it didn't stop her trying," Ainsley said. "When she was first diagnosed, she was in a lot of pain and it took a while for the medications to kick in and take the pain away.

"Over the past year, her activity levels have increased and she has been able to enjoy everything again. She has learned to ride her bike again and it was something she wasn't able to do last year.

"That was her goal, to learn to ride her bike with no stabilisers!"

Through what has been a tough year, mum and dad, Scott, have been supporting Freya and her big sister, Ella, has been looking out for her.

"She's never far away! It has been traumatic for Ella as well because the hospital has let her be part of the journey as well which is really nice that they haven't excluded her but she has seen her sister going through all these injections and infusions.

"It is hard for her, she's only eight, but she takes it in her stride and she is always there as a bit of a safety blanket for Freya."

For now, Freya is keeping up with her weekly treatments and though she might have to sit out some of her PE lessons or stay in at break time every once in a while, she is just like all of her classmates.

"She sees herself as just the same as anyone else. She knows who to speak to if she is feeling sore and the plans that are in place if she is not able to do something," Ainsley explained.

"She has arthritis and she is very happy to tell anybody about it but she is just like, 'It's just who I am, sometimes I have a sore foot and sometimes I have a sore knee but I'm not going to let it stop me.'"

"She's got the determination to carry on. She's a feisty wee thing!"