Four-star event rider seriously injured in rotational fall makes competition comeback

  • A four-star event rider who broke her pelvis and back in a rotational fall in June has made her competition comeback and taken two top-three placings.

    Former junior and young rider European team medallist Phoebe Locke, 22, was riding 13-year-old gelding Union Fortunus in the open intermediate class at Nunney on 18 June when he fell at the water jump.

    “We had been in the lead after the dressage and had a good round showjumping,” she told H&H.

    “I think we were three from home and he hesitated at the water and left a leg. He flipped, landed on top of me, rolled over and as he got up he stood on my leg and the studs went through the muscle.”

    Phoebe went to hospital where X-rays revealed she had broken her pelvis and a bone in her lower back. She also required surgery to clean and stitch the wound on her leg. Union Fortunus was not injured in the accident.

    “It was pretty awful, especially because I’ve never had a bad fall before or gone to hospital for anything. I had quite a scare and I was also disappointed because I thought that’s my season over,” said Phoebe.

    “The doctors initially said I wouldn’t be back on a horse for three to six months. I spent the week in hospital and to start with I couldn’t move my legs or do anything for myself. I was so fed up being in there and because I’d been lying down for so long when they tried to get me up my blood pressure dropped so low I couldn’t even sit up. I was quite annoyed with myself that I couldn’t sit up and not feel ill – that was hard.”

    Once Phoebe’s blood pressure was under control she began physio to get her back on her feet and she was released from hospital.

    “I was told I had to be able to walk and use the stairs with crutches before they would let me home. I was so determined. They said they’d never seen anyone progress so much,” she said.

    “I felt so much better to be going home. I moved to my new base in Gloucester at the start of the season and live in a flat above the indoor arena which has a lot of stairs, but luckily my landlord has a self-contained ground floor flat attached to their house so they kindly said I could move in there.”

    Phoebe continued with rehab and credits the use of BEMER therapy, a device that uses electro-magnectic waves to stimulate muscles and increase blood circulation, for her prompt healing.

    “When I went back for X-rays six weeks after my accident the doctors said I was 95% healed and asked what I had been doing,” she said. “I was told I could return to riding, but they said I should be pain-led and I was only to do it if I was feeling fine. They said I should take it easy and that any form of riding or exercise shouldn’t dislodge my fractures because they had healed so well,” she said.

    “Riding felt a bit weird to start. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to see a stride again but everything came back to me. The first time I went cross-country schooling I did think ‘I hope I don’t fall off again’, but I have quite a strong mindset and I knew I couldn’t let this affect me. I didn’t want this silly injury to hold me back.”

    On Saturday (4 September) Phoebe enjoyed her first competition since her accident. She was second on Quaikin Qurious and third on Tullabeg Chinzano in the BE100open class at Sapey, Herefordshire.

    Phoebe is entered for the CCI2*-S on Clotaire De Ferival and the CCI3*-S on Pica D’Or at Cornbury House International on 8 September.

    “It feels really good to be back,” she said. “I’m working really hard at the gym to make sure I’m as strong as I can be. I’ve got a couple more events planned for the rest of the year and I’m so grateful my owners kept supporting me while I was out.

    “This weekend was a good confidence boost and I’m excited for the rest of the season.”

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