John Whitaker: I’d broken my back and had no idea *H&H VIP*

Opinion

I’m still recovering from the fall I had from Argento in Gothenburg last month (news, 11 April), in which I broke my collarbone.

Luckily, Argento was absolutely fine and has been busy with stud duties for a couple of weeks while I recuperate. But falling off is, unfortunately, all part of the game, and often happens when you least expect it.

Although a broken collarbone is a fairly common injury in riders, this is actually the first time I’ve broken mine — I just couldn’t get my arms out when I fell so my shoulder was the first thing to hit the ground.

I have been relatively fortunate injury-wise over the years. I broke my foot as a kid, I’ve been knocked out a couple of times and I broke my leg falling off Peppermill in 2009 — so this is the longest I’ve been out of the saddle in 10 years.

However, when I fell off at the Global Champions Tour in London a couple of years ago, a precautionary MRI scan revealed that I had suffered two cracked bones in my back at some point in the past — which was news to me!

There have been a few times I’ve fallen off and felt a bit sore, but nothing that didn’t feel OK a couple of days later, so I really couldn’t pinpoint when it could have happened. It did strike me as a lucky escape, though.

Somebody said to me recently, ‘You need to take it steady at your age,’ but I pointed out you don’t win anything by taking it steady. So instead I’m thinking about going to Geoff Billington for some lessons on how to fall off.

Royal Windsor beckons

Hopefully I’ll be back in the saddle for Royal Windsor (8-12 May), because it’s one of the best shows in the world.

Since becoming a five-star showjumping event, with a massive boost in prize-money, it has regularly attracted the world’s best riders — which is fantastic, but does make it much harder to win there. It’s always a great atmosphere with enthusiastic crowds, and having the backdrop of Windsor Castle really is the icing on the cake.

It’s always been a very good show for me and a real highlight in the calendar — a great way to mark the start of the outdoor season.

Ref Horse & Hound; 2 May 2019

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