Tales from Hartpury: how one rider overcame a life changing injury with the help of top paralympian…

Two years ago, Tina Kazmi’s life turned upside down when she had a seemingly small fall during a riding club team training.

“Little did we realise that a small fall would cause such a bad injury,” says Tina, who is set to compete her horse, Colour Me Aftershock, in the Petplan Equine Novice Bronze Area Festival Dressage Championship at Hartpury (3 — 7 April).

“Afterwards, I managed to drive my lorry back to the yard after having help load him.

“I was taken to Solihull A&E where I was then put in a full leg cast. I was then shipped off to Heartlands Hospital. The following few hours I was told that I had a tibial plateau fracture, but the top of my shin bone had broken into several pieces — they said it was like a cracked eggshell.

“I was told I would need surgery but they were unsure at how successful an operation would be.”

After a lengthy operation, Tina was then immobilised for three months.

“Throughout this time my horses were a constant worry,” she continues. “My partner took them on and turned them away to grass; it was a completely new routine for them. I was devastated as I couldn’t even get out to see them. I relied on friends taking photos of them and sending them to me.

“Eventually I was able to start to learn to walk again, and soon after I was able to slowly get back on board.

“My first goal was to attempt to get to the last Area Festival near me at Hartpury. We made it — both a tad unfit but we ended up coming 11th.

“I soon realised that I had to change my way of training as I had clear weakness in my right leg. I decided to move across to paralympian Sir Lee Pearson. With his support, great personality and attitude, I now have confidence in my riding again and have even achieved some PB scores. Lee pushes us both in our training and has taught me ‘tricks’ to use when I’m struggling with weakness in my leg.

“This week it’s two years since my accident. I still wake up every morning in extreme pain but I take my painkillers and do what is necessary that day to be able to have the end result of enjoying my horse.

“We have had to make a few small adaptations to get through day to day. Without the support from Lee, my partner Andy and a couple of close friends, I wouldn’t be here competing this week.

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“I don’t think people realise how having a serious injury can also affect your mental health. I was so low when I was housebound and not able to see or smell my horses. They were my sanity, my reason to live and I needed that back again.

“Our aim this year is to qualify for the Area Festivals and hopefully championships in both novice and elementary whilst working at home at medium level. Lee couldn’t join us at Hartpury as he is currently competing in Deauville French International although his partner Richard Wood had competed on Wednesday morning.”

Horse & Hound has three reporters on the ground at Hartpury; don’t miss the 11 April issue for 12 pages of reports from the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships and the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, and keep up to date with action as it happens here on HorseandHound.co.uk