‘My full focus is making my comeback bigger than my setback’: event rider recovering from broken back

  • An event rider who broke her back in a cross-country schooling accident is focusing on her recovery as she returns to saddle.

    Multiple medallist Bubby Upton, 22, was injured in a fall from a youngster at home.

    “It wasn’t the horse’s fault or mine, it was a complete freak thing and he ended up on top of me. I was very lucky as there were some other people using the facilities and they had come up to the field I was in as it happened. One of the ladies was a nurse and knew exactly what to do and what not to do. I’m so grateful and count my lucky stars she was there,” Bubby told H&H.

    “I was knocked out for a while and an ambulance was called. I remember being in excruciating pain and I kept saying to everybody ‘I’m going to be at Hartpury next week’. I was rushed to West Suffolk [Hospital] for a scan and the doctors told me that I had broken my back. I was an absolute mess.”

    Bubby had broken eight vertebrae and her collarbone.

    “I was lucky that the breaks were stable and I didn’t need surgery. The first few days when I got out of hospital I couldn’t walk and was shuffling around with people helping me,” she said.

    “I went to see specialists and to the Injured Jockeys Fund in Newmarket, who have been incredible. The people who first saw me when I came out of hospital couldn’t believe the difference in my progress a week later. I’m on a rehab plan, which started in the pool doing hydrotherapy, and I’ve had my first gym session. I’m such a determined and competitive person so it’s nice to have something to look forward to every day and to work on.”

    Bubby, who won the under-25 CCI4-*L at Bicton Horse Trials in June with Cannavaro, had been long-listed for the senior European Championships at Avenches, Switzerland (22-26 September) with Cannavaro and Cola.

    “It was a dream come true to be long-listed, especially as it’s my first year out of young riders, but my dreams of the Europeans have been shattered. It also means that I have a lovely seven-year-old Cooley As Ice who now won’t be qualified for the seven-year-old championships at Le Lion. I truly believed he was a contender for that,” said Bubby.

    “I’m not going to say tears weren’t shed, because there were a lot. I felt that my horses had been incredible this year and really held their own. The instant feeling was that I had let them down. When I went to the yard after my accident I saw them and I just cried, it was really hard because they didn’t deserve it – they deserved a shot at selection. I was gutted for them and for my whole team who have been incredible this year.”

    Bubby has since returned to the saddle.

    “The specialists are happy with me riding. At the moment I’m just hacking and I’m only riding the older ones,” she said.

    “My plan is to keep working on my rehab to get myself strong again. I’m not going to go out competing unless I am fighting fit and I’m taking each day as it comes. We still have some of the season left so I hope I can finish it, the way it started. It‘s been very gutting but it’s horses, how I bounce back from this will define me as who I am as an athlete so I’m just trying to deal with it and make my comeback even bigger than my setback. That is what my full focus is on now.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...