A couple of weeks ago a couple of my colleagues and I were lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit Oaksey House (pictured) in Lambourn, the flagship centre for the Injured Jockeys’ Fund. I have to say, we were absolutely blown away from the moment we walked through the doors. We went to meet the practice manager, Jayne Matthews, who was hugely welcoming and it was quickly clear that all-comers are given the same open-armed reception. She took so much time to show us around and answer all of our questions. It was amazing.
I knew of some of the goings on there; of course there is their vital role in racing providing help to jockeys post-injury, and work with riders from other equestrian sports such as eventer Laura Collett. However, I was unaware that they work in partnership with neurological specialists Hobbs Rehabilitation, who help those affected by brain and spinal injuries along with other conditions such as Parkinsons, multiple scelrosis and motor neuron disease. I didn’t know about their performance academy either, which majors on injury prevention among a whole range of other issues that a jockey is likely to encounter during their career. What a place.
The way the building itself is designed is quite wonderful. The light, in particular, struck me; it was like the sun was shining on the inside of each room. There was a serene yet dynamic atmosphere that made you feel instantly comfortable and uplifted the moment you walked in. Oaksey House is obviously embedded in the community of Lambourn, and Lambourn must think itself so lucky. Not even a monsoon and hailstorm on the way home was enough to dampen our spirits, what a fantastic day!
Our little Secret
We have a horse in for rehab at the moment who underwent an interspinous ligament desmotomy 10 weeks ago. We have a fairly steady stream of horses post-surgery from this operation now. From our perspective, it has been a major breakthrough in the treatment of overriding dorsal spinous processes (kissing spines). Secret is lovely little horse who previously raced and is a bit of a sensitive soul, but is a real trier – like so many thoroughbreds really.
The coming week will see us sitting on him for the first time since before his surgery. We introduce the weight of a rider carefully and slowly and almost treat them like breakers before getting on, often leaning over them first. They can feel really wobbly when you first sit on them again — I think they have to get used to their bodies feeling different when ridden. So far all of his responses have been positive, here’s hoping the same applies here!
The importance of self
Like many riders, I suffer from the effects of previous injuries and mishaps gained as a result of a career in horses. To make matters worse, I’m no ballerina in terms of my posture and am constantly rushing around at work. All in all it’s not ideal mix for the comfort of my long-suffering body!
Thankfully I am able to access the services of our osteopath Liz Launder, who treats two-legged patients as well as four-legged ones! As well as dealing with my pain, Liz is helping me to be more aware of the way I stand, bend, sit… I don’t know when we get to the bit where I learn how to walk!?
On Tuesday I felt the delights of acupuncture needles being inserted to my traps, rhomboids and sub-scapular muscles, so basically most of the major muscle groups of my shoulders. I must have looked like a pin cushion but thankfully I couldn’t see them — I’m terrified of needles!
I have a lot of work to do but I figure if I want to sit straight on my horse, and reduce the pain emanating from various bits of me, it’s high time I do something about it. And on that note, I’m off to do my exercises now…!