Tales from Tokyo: ‘The good thing about bones is they heal – generally’

  • Australian event rider Shane Rose, currently competing at the Tokyo Olympics, has broken more bones in his body than perhaps it is fair for one man to break.

    “I’ve broken most things: both my arms, both my legs, hands, both rib cages, my shoulder,” reels off Shane.

    “I got golden staph [Staphylococcus aureus] after I broke my ribs and punctured a lung and tore my liver apart; that was pretty awful,” he adds. “I also have eight plates in my face – I got kicked after I got myself into a bad position with a horse, and pretty much smashed everything from the bottom up. I used to be beautiful looking, but now not so much! But the good thing about bones is that they heal – generally.”

    It’s just as well that they do, and that Shane is an incredibly tough and resilient sportsman, otherwise he certainly would not be standing here on day one of the Tokyo Olympic eventing, having just ridden a 31.7 dressage on the 16-year-old Vivant gelding Virgil. But he reveals that the vast majority of his injuries have not been incurred while competing, and he is thankful for that.

    “I have only done two [breaks] competing – the mental scars are much harder when you do that. Whereas if you get kicked in the face you’re being silly really, you’re in a position you probably shouldn’t have been, and so it’s easier to come back from that sort of thing.

    “It’s just part of being around horses – they’re dangerous animals so you’ve got to look after yourself. But once [injuries] are done, they’re done. You move on and can’t really think about it too much, just try to learn from your ways,” continues Shane, adding that he is “quite particular” about how he walks behind a horse nowadays, after his facial injury.

    Shane Rose may now have ridden at three Olympics, including Tokyo – winning team silver and bronze in Hong Kong and Rio respectively – as well as four World Equestrian Games, but his main “day job” is actually breaking and training racehorses in New South Wales, Australia.

    “We have a pre-training, breaking and spelling [resting racehorses] farm and we break in a bunch of horses for some really nice trainers,” he explains. “We have another property for spelling that is very close to being finished.

    “It’s a busy thing, but I like being busy. We work 50 or 60 in a morning before we start doing the eventers later on in the afternoon. But we’re really lucky that we have some awesome staff who make things happen at home.”

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