Injured event rider home after four-month hospital stay

  • Ruth Mathieson, the event rider who broke her back in a fall at Nurstead Court Horse Trials earlier this year (news, 16 May), is at home again in Surrey — after telling doctors that she wanted to be discharged.

    Ms Mathieson, who has competed up to two-star, damaged her spinal cord in the accident.

    She is unable to walk at the moment, but her long-term prognosis is not clear.

    “I’m very determined,” she told H&H. “Most people with my level of injury are in rehab for a year, but I said to the doctors, ‘I’m going at the end of August’ and they said, ‘OK, we’ll find a way to make it happen’.”

    Ms Mathieson spent four months in the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville, Bucks.

    Her fall happened when her eight year-old mare, Ameya, hit the second part of a combination of hanging roll tops half-way round the novice course on 30 April.

    “She chipped in a short stride and fell over the fence,” said Ruth.

    “I’d done all the safety training, but the fall was so quick, I had no time to tuck and roll. I landed smack, straight on my head.”

    At the time of the accident, Ms Mathieson had taken a career break from her job as a management consultant to event her three horses.

    One of them — the experienced Ollie Artois — was leased to her by eventer Gemma Tattersall.

    Ms Tattersall, one of several friends who have been inspired to do something to help, is swimming the length of the English Channel — more than 1,400 lengths of her local 25-metre pool — to raise funds for spinal research.

    She told H&H: “It was a really big shock for that to happen to someone I knew. Ruth’s positivity is amazing, she is such a strong person.”

    The level of interest, much of it from complete strangers, has prompted Ms Mathieson to set up a charitable trust called Eos.

    The trust — named after a Greek goddess, meaning “hope for a new day” — will also promote safety training for riders.

    Ms Mathieson added: “Even though I’m in this situation, there are always great things you can do and achieve. AP McCoy sent me a signed picture of his Grand National win when I was in hospital. It said, ‘Don’t ever give up’.”

    The trustees of Eos hope to be ready to take donations within the next month.

    For further details, please email Lisa Dodd: eos_@hotmail.co.uk.

    This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (15 September, 2011)

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