‘I have never been fitter’: eventer fights back after life-threatening heart condition

  • Event rider Chantal Siddle is starting teaching again after 18 months of treatment following a life-threatening heart attack.

    The 39-year-old Shropshire-based eventer posted on Facebook on 22 December her intention to rebuild her equine career.

    She is also hunting again with the North Shorpshire, going out on Boxing Day with her six-year-old son Barney at the meet at Albrighton Hall.

    It’s a complete miracle that I’m back,” she told H&H.

    The eventer had a heart attack on the cross-country course at Moreton Morrell on 7 May 2015 and was kicked in the head as she lay unconscious.

    After heart surgery at Coventry hospital she was in a coma for five weeks.

    The ventilator pipe damaged her airways and she later lost her voice and had breathing problems.

    Multiple operations followed to keep the trachea open but it was only with the help of Guri Sandhu, a pioneering airway surgeon, that was she able to breathe unaided again.

    “The hardest bit in the whole process was when the doctors said you are doing to die because you’ve had too much anaesthetic, the airways are blocked and the heart might bleed to death,” said Mrs Siddle.

    But last October she was back competing at Osberton Horse Trials in the one-star, and with the help of a two-way headset she is going to start teaching again.

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    “My airway is bad on a cold day, but I am running every day, swimming three times a week and have never been fitter,” said Mrs Siddle.

    “The saving grace was that I didn’t hurt my spine or my legs.”

    Following the accident she has changed the focus of her equestrian business, Siddle Equine Service run with husband Mark, to concentrate on hiring out facilities, training and lessons.

    This March she is running a first adult camp, offering eight riders a residential tailor-made training course.

    “I’m now in a position to rebuild my life,” said Mrs Siddle.

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