Producer and dealer Vere Phillipps is counting himself “very lucky” after being temporarily paralysed in a fall while breaking a young horse last Friday (20 February).

“It was the second time he’d ridden the youngster and it bucked him off — he was probably doing things a bit fast,” said his wife, Clea. “It was the sort of fall from which you normally get up and dust yourself off — but he was paralysed from the neck down.”

Vere, 47, was airlifted to Queen’s Medical Hospital, Nottingham, but was able to move his leg by the time he reached hospital. He was diagnosed with a bleed in his spinal cord, which should improve slowly but can be operated on if he is no better within several weeks.

“He can now walk, and discharged himself on Sunday night, but he is still having problems with movement in his arms and is in quite a lot of nerve pain,” added Clea on Monday. “He’s been told not to break any more horses — if he falls off like that again he could end up like Christopher Reeve.”

The Phillipps have 48 youngsters at their home in Rempstone, Leicestershire, and Clea said they would now have to “rethink things”.

“But we’re counting ourselves lucky,” she said. “He was, unusually for him, wearing a riding hat at the time. He was lying in the school praying he would be able to walk again.”

The couple are looking for a rider to help with their business.

In 1999, Vere’s then wife Polly died after a fall from Coral Cove at Thirlestane Castle.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (26 February, ’09)

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