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Horse and rider beat illness and gruelling treatment to make Boxing Day meet

A rider had extra cause to celebrate this Christmas after both she and her horse recovered from illness to make the Boxing Day meet.

Jayde Payne was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in August and underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy before she was given the all-clear on Christmas Eve.

Her 16-year-old hunter Finn has also had a spell of gruelling treament, after he was first diagnosed with uveitis and then hospitalised with sinusitis, which required surgery.

“He was diagnosed with sinusitis at the end of October and both of us were in and out of hospital,” said Jayde. “He had to have a hole drilled in his head and his sinuses drained at the beginning of November.

“It’s amazing how quickly he has come back. He was drained for three or four days and then they stitched him up. Once the stitches were out I was able to ride him again.”

Vets originally thought the discharge out of the 17.2hh gelding’s left nostril was linked to his earlier diagnosis of uveitis, which affected the same side, but he was sent for a CT scan when his condition worsened.

“His runny nose just got thicker and thicker,” Jayde said. “We’re not 100% sure whether or not the conditions were linked but since he had surgery his eye has been really good. We take precautions for the uveitis, so he wears a mask on sunny days.”

Jayde, who continued to hunt and compete throughout her cancer treatment, said making the Boxing Day meet of the Staff College Sandhurst Draghounds had been a goal.

“When I said to the vets that Finn is a hunter they said ‘we can guarantee you’ll be hunting on Boxing Day’,” she said. “We were glad to be back out, and being told I had the all-clear on Christmas Eve made it a great Christmas present.

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“Finn absolutely loves hunting,” she added. “He used to be a showjumper in Ireland and then he was a hunt hireling but we bought him off one of the masters of the hunt two years ago. It’s his favourite thing — he will take you over any country and any hedge.”

Jayde said she was feeling well but a “bit tired” now her treatment is over but is gearing up to return to her job with a construction company in the next couple of weeks.

“Hopefully Finn will be out most weeks for the rest of the season, unless we get too much rain,” she said. “I have also just brought my eventer Baz back into work, so I should have him to compete this year.”

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