A rider left too scared to look at her leg after a serious accident is urging others to ensure they leave adequate space between horses.
Ryann Victoria Kirkham was riding out for Michael Bell in Newmarket when the incident took place (7 February).
The group was returning to the yard and had slowed down as they were approaching a road.
Ryann’s filly was getting close to the horse in front so she turned her slightly to the left. At that point the horse in front bucked, striking Ryann’s shin.
“I knew straight away as soon as the horse kicked my leg I’d done something serious,” she told H&H.
“I collapsed on to my horse and was screaming. The pain was unreal — I’ve never felt anything like it.
“It was quite gory. There was blood everywhere as the horse had kicked through my skin.”
Ryann was helped off her horse and taken to hospital by ambulance. Scans revealed she had broken her tibia and fibula and required an operation to insert a pin to secure the break.
There was a delay for the operation until the following day and during the night swelling built up in Ryann’s leg.
“I was screaming and crying in absolute agony,” she said. “The pain had gone into overdrive.”
Surgeons decided Ryann needed an urgent fasciotomy, in which the fascia (connective tissue) is cut to relieve tension in the leg.
She later went in for a second operation during which a pin was inserted from her knee to her ankle.
“I couldn’t even look at my leg afterwards,” said Ryaan. “I was terrified to see what I looked like.
“It took nearly two weeks for me to look at it. When I did I was speechless, I’m quite squeamish and I was just thinking, ‘this is not my leg’, but at the same it was a tidy job and didn’t look as bad as it had in my imagination.”
Ryann returned home to her parents’ house in Lincolnshire 13 days after her accident and is now weight-bearing on crutches.
“It’s been a very tough few weeks,” she said. “My horse at home had to be put down due to suspected organ failure the morning I was discharged.
“Stun Gun (‘Stunners’) was an ex-racer and my escape from work. I’m due some good luck.”
Despite her ordeal, 20-year-old Ryann is determined to return to the saddle, although she is unsure how long it will take.
Racing Welfare has offered to provide private physiotherapy to help her recovery and Northern Racing College, where she studied, has offered to help her return to the saddle when she is ready.
“I’ve been in racing for nearly two years now and there isn’t anything else I want to do, I’ve fallen in love with it,” said Ryann.
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She is now urging others to take care to leave plenty of room between horses when they are riding as a group.
“At racing college they always said you should be able to see the bottom of the tail of the horse in front,” she said.
“I really want to stress how important it is to keep your distance — I don’t want anybody else to get kicked.”
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