Eventer Aoife Clark broke her neck in a fall from a young horse – but went on to complete the Event Rider Masters (ERM) at Blenheim.
The Irish rider thought the pain and numbness she had suffered in the fall at Millstreet Horse Trials (25-28 August) were due to a trapped nerve so carried on riding.
But this week, doctors found she had fractured two cervical vertebrae.
“I think I was dragged in to be checked!” Aoife told H&H.
“I had a bit of a tumble at Millstreet, from a horse who left a leg. It was a bit of a heavy one but I was checked then and thought I was fine.
“I rode on and thought it was just nerve pain – I was a bit weak and tired – but apparently not.”
Aoife rode two horses at Blenheim (7-11 September), finishing 26th in the ERM on Fernhill Adventure (pictured), but falling at the final cross-country fence in the CCI3* on Wasting Light, the horse with whom she was long-listed for the Rio Olympics.
“I couldn’t turn my shoulders,” she said. “I just wish I’d been able to do my horses more justice but at least now I know why I was so weak and unbalanced.
“It’s not the end of the season I was hoping for, and it’s not a great area to have injured so I need to be careful.
“I’ll have an X-ray in a few weeks and hopefully if that’s all good, it’ll be a bit of a rest and then crack on; I should be fine for next season.
“I’d considered myself a bit unlucky but having seen the CT scans, and having been riding with a fractured neck, I know I am very lucky.”
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Aoife, who finished best of the Irish at London 2012, in seventh place on Master Crusoe, is currently in hospital but told H&H today (14 September) that she hoped to be allowed to go home soon.
“I’m just scared about what I’m going to do,” she added. “I’m not good at all at not being active; I pity those around me!
“They’re going to have their work cut out but I am going to do what I’m told now – even if that does only last a short while!”