A dressage rider has been riding with a likely broken neck for 18 months, his doctor recently informed him.

West Sussex-based Jody Haswell fell off a young horse some time ago, but never had his injuries checked out.

“I got straight back on and carried on schooling,” he said. “I persuaded myself it hadn’t been that serious, but I felt like I was on a different planet for the next two weeks.

“I buried my head and kept getting on with it, like us horsey people do, but I kept getting migraines.”

Finally, last week — 18 months after the accident — Jody went to the doctor, complaining of severe headaches.

The doctor attributed the pain to the fall, and said that it was very likely that Jody had broken his neck in the accident in early 2013.

“He told me I was silly for not coming in at the time,” said Jody. “I’d say to anyone else who has any sort of fall, go straight to A&E. If you feel funny, something’s probably not right. Don’t be a fool like me.”

Jody’s fall was from a youngster when he was alone in the arena. The horse leapt and Jody was ejected out of the side door. As he fell, the horse leapt upwards again and Jody hit his head hard on the saddle.

“If I hadn’t been wearing a hat, I’m sure I would have been knocked out — or worse,” he concluded.

People should wear hats all the time — especially as they are so fashionable these days.”

Jody and his wife Hannah have 21-month-old triplets, another factor in Jody’s decision not to seek medical help immediately.

“They’ve just started walking talking and being demanding and life never stops; I’m always on the go, and I thought I didn’t have time to go and get checked,” added Jody, who runs a training and livery yard and typically rides six to 10 horses a day.

Some of his horses — including four stallions — are owned in partnership with Germany’s Paul Schockemöhle.