An event rider has returned to the competition circuit after a life-threatening fall two years ago.
Sophie McCormack finished fifth in the BE100 open at Farley Hall on Friday (24 June) riding Max Warburton’s Hartleymanor Viceroy (Hartley).
The Oxfordshire-based student had a rotational fall while competing at Rockingham Horse Trials on 24 May, 2015.
Her horse, As You Like It IV (Pete), had to be put down as a result of his injuries and Sophie suffered a serious head injury.
Following the accident, Sophie had to learn to walk and talk again, as well as undergo extensive rehabilitation to improve her coordination, strength and ability to cope with fatigue.
Eventually she was able to return to the saddle and in December she took 10-year-old 17.1hh Hartley on loan.
She told H&H her return to eventing exceeded her expectations.
“I‘m still buzzing — it was the best day,” she told H&H. “When I arrived I couldn’t believe I was actually there.
“I had finally got back to doing what I love and was on an adrenaline high.”
Sophie was accompanied by a support team including her trainer Hannah Goddard and her mother and sister.
“After the first fence I let out a massive sigh of relief,” she said.
“Hartley was so professional — he helped me out when I needed it and I helped him out when he needed it.
“When I jumped the last fence the biggest smile came over my face.”
Sophie finished with a double clear on a score of 30.3.
Lots of the volunteers that had been at Rockingham on the day of her accident were also at Farley Hall.
“They were all so kind,” Sophie added. “I made sure I said hi to them after I had finished. It was such a terrible accident — it really hit everybody.
“It felt like I was riding round with a lot of other people because everyone was so tied up in my accident and recovery. It was so nice to have so much support.
“I’ve been building up to this for two years. Every single day the only thing that got me through was coming out of that cross-country box.
Sophie McCormack had a serious fall last year…
“I never thought I would get back to competing again. It was so much better than I expected.
“I’m so thankful to everyone who’s helped me get better and Hartley going so well was down to the work Jess Wade has done, as she looks after him whilst I’m at university.
“I’d also like to thank Gatehouse for giving me a brand new RXC1 hat to go cross-country in.”