Jonty Evans is making “remarkable” progress in his rehabilitation – and his aim is to get back on a horse again.
Jonty, who regained consciousness in late July following a serious brain injury he suffered in a cross-country fall on 3 June, has been undergoing intensive treatment including physio and speech and language therapy.
He spoke to DJ Mark Cummings in an interview broadcast on BBC Radio Gloucestershire last week (14 September).
“I’m very well,” Jonty told Mark. “I’m surprised I’m quite as well as I am because the doctors in Ireland said I was probably not going to wake up.”
Jonty was injured in a fall from Cooley Rorkes Drift at Tattersalls in Ireland and was initially treated at Connolly Hospital, moving on to Beaumont Hospital where he spent weeks in intensive care.
On 19 August, he was passed fit to travel back to the UK, where he has been receiving further treatment.
“I was in a coma for six weeks – I’m probably very lucky to be here,” Jonty said. “But the horse is well, I’m well and with a little bit of luck, I’ll learn to walk again properly and unaided, and we’ll get going, if we can.”
Jonty agreed with Mark that the outlook initially was “grim”.
“My sister rang the Beaumont yesterday and they couldn’t believe I was up and walking and awake,:” he said. “They refused point-blank to believe it.
“My rehab now is a step up from where we were in Ireland; there’s a possibility that in a month or so I might go to a place in Lambourn, then it’ll go up another gear; the whole idea of the physio is that it gets more and more intense the fitter you get.”
Jonty said that although he remembers the course in detail, including the minute markers, he has no recollection of the fence at which he fell, which was three from home.
He thanked the public for their support, good wishes and “incredible generosity” in raising £35,000 for the David Foster Injured Riders’ Fund, his family’s chosen charity, adding: “I’m so grateful to the people who have cared about me… it’s meant a huge amount that people have cared.”
And asked whether he can imagine riding again, or whether that is “not part of the conversation”, Jonty said: “It’s not meant to be part of the conversation – but I’m not very good at that bit!
“All the therapists say I’m doing remarkably well; they’re incredibly impressed with my improvement but they say it’s very definitely one step at a time. It’s biting off bite-sized chunks out of a big pie. The aim is to get a big pie and the aim is to ride again, possibly, but it’s mend the little things first.”
Dawn Harper, who also spoke on the programme, said that as a doctor who had worked in intensive care, she had not thought Jonty’s situation would have a positive outcome.
“I think it’s all credit to the teams who have looked after him, but we have to admit he’s where he is today because of his determination. You can never underestimate the human will to survive.
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“He got to where he was because he’s a very determined and positive person.
“Who else could get people to pay £500,000 for a horse; who else could spend six weeks in a coma and come back?
“I’m going to put my money on the table – that man will ride again.”
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