‘I went splat!’ Eventer aiming for Luhmühlen after breaking two vertebrae

  • Event rider Franky Reid-Warrilow is aiming to recover from two fractured vertebrae to take her top horses to Luhmühlen CCI5* in four months’ time.

    The former three-star European champion was riding her last horse at home, a young mare, before she caught a flight to the Isle of Man to coach,  on 16 February.

    “We’d finished jumping and she was cantering round, all happy and excited, then I thought ‘This broncing is getting a bit dangerous,” Franky told H&H. “Then I went splat.”

    Franky said she landed awkwardly on her back, and was winded.

    “I knew I couldn’t get up,” she said. “I could hear the horse going nuts and my poor groom was wondering whether to go to me or her. I broke my right hip once and that was hurting; I thought ‘Are you kidding me, I can’t have done that again!’”

    Franky’s sister called an ambulance, and was told it could be a four-hour wait – no fun on a wet February day.

    “I thought there was no way I could wait that out but they brought me two New Zealand rugs and a hot water bottle!” Franky said. “I knew where the pain was; in my pelvis and spine and I knew they’re not good areas for injuries, but I could feel my legs and move, so I hoped it wasn’t too bad and just tried to wait it out.”

    In the end, the ambulance arrived after 45 minutes.

    “The paramedics were great,” Franky said. “It took about an hour to move me, then the 45 minutes on Welsh country lanes wasn’t fun. The poor paramedic must have thought I was so rude as she was trying to make conversation to take my mind off it, but I do a bit of psychology and was thinking ‘mind over matter’, and listening to The Eventing Podcast!”

    Franky was X-rayed and it was found she had fractured the transverse processes, the “wings” of two lumbar vertebrae.

    “When the surgeon said it didn’t need an operation, I felt so relieved,” she said. “He said it would be six to eight weeks for the bones to heal, and I’m not allowed to get on a horse for six weeks. I said ‘Does that mean three?’ and he said ‘No it means six’. I said ‘Ok’!”

    Franky said she is now feeling better after a tough week, but that that means it is harder to be unable to do much.

    “My husband and I have a house on the yard so I keep sticking my head out saying ‘Who’s that, what’s happening now, what are you doing’; The girls are probably thinking ‘Will you shut up’!” she said.

    “My first event was going to be Kelsall Hill, which is in nine weeks, and my two main horses are aiming for Luhmühlen (13-16 June); I’m glad I’d already decided that as being ready for Badminton would have been a bit of a stretch.”

    Franky was to see a physio this week, and make a plan for rehab, including looking at when she might be able to get back to yoga, to help her muscle tone.

    “At least I got injured when I was already fit, rather than at Christmas,” she said. “I felt stupid for not wearing a body protector, especially as I’m sponsored by FOMO, which makes them, but they are big and you get sweaty riding a lot in them at home. But I’ve spoken to them and they’re bringing out a new slimline one. She said she’d send me one and I said ‘Absolutely’. I don’t think I’ll ride without one 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...