Paralympic dream on hold for rider injured in car crash

  • A para dressage rider who was badly injured in a car crash has told H&H she will not give up on her dream of competing at the Paralympics.

    Kate Hunter and her friend Beth Tyson were on their way back from tending to their horses on 18 December, 2013, when the accident happened.

    They were driving on the A46 near Market Rasen when their car was hit head-on.

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    Beth suffered severe multiple injuries and Kate sustained a bleed on the brain, broke her wrist and suffered nerve damage to her left arm.

    Kate was referred to the Royal National Orthapoedic Hospital in London, where surgeons told her she needed an urgent operation to help repair the damaged nerves.

    After a seven-hour operation, her surgeon told her he hoped she would regain some feeling in her arm.

    “It was about six months later I was allowed to ride again,” she said.

    “My horse [Pro-Mo] is very flighty and spooky, but I just felt she would look after me.

    “When I got on her, it was like she knew.

    “She has been really, really good.”

    Kate became involved in para dressage after she sustained a life-threatening head injury while eventing at Bishop Burton in 2009.

    She was competing her mare, Seagull Silver Lady, in a BE90 section when they both fell at the final cross-country fence.

    “Everything was going amazingly until the last fence – then I can’t remember anything,” she said.

    It was a freak accident.”

    Kate had to learn to walk and talk again following the fall and started riding again through the Kesteven branch of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) in 2010.

    Before the car crash, Kate had been hoping to be selected to ride for Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

    Kate and her ride Pro-Mo, owned by Jo Leonard, had been working towards World Class selection.

    They had posted a string of strong results ahead of the accident and competed for Great Britian in the CPEDI at Bishop Burton in 2013.

    In 2011, she was accepted onto the British Equestrian Federation’s excel talent programme and while studying at Riseholme College, Kate was also on the Sport England talented athlete scholarship scheme (TASS).

    In May, the combination took part in their first competition following the crash at the RDA regionals at Hill House Equestrian Centre in Market Rasen.

    “We went in expecting nothing and when I came out, I thought it had gone really badly,” said the 20-year-old.

    They won on a score of 72%.

    “That made me feel amazing,” she said.

    They qualified for the national championships, which were held at Hartpury College from 17-19 July.

    Unfortunately the wind and rain upset Pro-Mo. Kate could not hold her with her left arm and they jumped out over the dressage boards.

    Kate is now setting her sights on Paralympics beyond Rio.

    She is also on the look out for another horse that can cope with a one-armed rider.

    “It has just set me back,” she said.

    I am still going to aim to compete in the Paralympics someday – it is just going to take a bit longer.”

    Adam Hill, 35, of Grimsbury Road, Caistor, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving – to run concurrently.

    He was sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court on 20 July following a trial at the same court.

    Hill was ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge.

    During the trial at Lincoln Crown Court, he was also banned from driving for three years.

    “At the beginning, I was very annoyed at everything I had missed out on,” said Kate.

    “I’m just glad it is over now.”

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