‘I thought: this is going to hurt’ – British eventing medallist home after hospital stay

  • Jeanette Brakewell is recovering at home after a four-night hospital stay following a fall last Wednesday (25 January).

    “It was unexpected and one of those things,” the eight-time British championship medallist told H&H. “It was after the frozen period and the first time this horse, a six-year-old, had been ridden for three or four days.

    “He was a bit fresh so I lunged him first and then was just going for a little hack on private land. He was trotting along and felt fine so I just said, ‘Come on, don’t be lazy’ and gave him a little squeeze – and he put his head down and bronced on the spot, spinning, which is very difficult to sit.

    “I remember thinking, ‘This is going to hurt’, then nothing until I was grovelling around on the floor trying to get to my feet. I probably wasn’t knocked out for more than five minutes.”

    Jeanette was within 100m of her yard but out of sight; luckily a caretaker from Abbotsholme School saw her. He called an ambulance and sent somebody to fetch Jeanette’s team, who brought blankets and a lunge line to take the horse, who was not injured, home.

    An ambulance arrived in around 40 minutes to take Jeanette to Derby Hospital.

    She explained: “I was put on a spinal board and by the time I was in the ambulance, I had gone into shock and was chattering away, plus I had got quite cold, so it took a while to find a vein to get the catheter in. Once the drugs were in, I was pretty much away with the fairies.”

    At the hospital, it was confirmed Jeanette did not have a neck or head injury, but she had suffered five fractured ribs and one of her lungs was slightly compromised.

    Broken ribs are a notoriously painful injury.

    “Twisting, lifting, coughing, sneezing – the whole thing hurts,” said Jeanette. “I broke seven when I fell off at Badminton and that wasn’t as bad as this.”

    The rider stayed in hospital for four nights and said the hospital team was “fabulous, really good”.

    “I was quite ill on Wednesday and Thursday – the morphine made me quite sick, so I then moved on to tramadol, ibuprofen and paracetamol,” she said. “By Sunday evening I was feeling a lot better and had got to the point where I was helping the lady opposite me when things fell off her table or she wanted her zimmer frame.”

    Jeanette Brakewell said she will “behave” during her recovery from the fall and not do anything that hurts.

    She said: “My head girl Katy Mousdale is keeping all the horses working, which is good so they won’t be too fresh when I get back on. I’ll definitely take it easy for the rest of this week, but I can dress myself and so on – I don’t need to be cared for.

    “I’ve been mooching around the place – you have to do some activity or your body stops working and I’ve got to go and exercise my lungs a bit. And I can do my teaching, but I can’t chop logs or carry the log basket.

    “I’m ever the optimist, but I won’t take risks or be silly. There are a lot of people worse off. These things happen, much as you don’t plan them, and if they happen you’ve got to deal with it and be sensible. My office work will be well up to speed in the next couple of days.”

    Jeanette Brakewell said the fall means she may have to delay her first competitions at the start of the season for a few weeks, but she hopes she can work on her own fitness even before she starts riding – when she broke her ankle a few years ago, she benefited from sessions at the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Jack Berry House.

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