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‘I was poo-picking when I got the call to say I’d broken my neck — I could have been paralysed’

What 25-year-old showjumper Chantelle Duggan believed was nothing more than whiplash caused by a “freak accident” with a youngster turned out to be something far more serious and she considers herself extremely fortunate that she did not end up paralysed as a result.

Speaking to H&H at Onley Grounds Equestrian Complex recently, where she won the winter grade C at the venue’s winter classic show, she explained the unfortunate turn of events.

“It was a freak accident getting on a five-year-old — she caught me wrong and knocked me out,” said Chantelle of the incident in August.

The hospital diagnosis was initially that she had suffered whiplash.

“I went home and was poo-picking in the field when I got a phone call asking me to return for a CT scan and that they were sending an ambulance,” she revealed.

It turned out Chantelle had fractured her C6 and C7 vertebrae in her neck.

“I was operated on the next day,” she said. “I could have been paralysed as a disc had slipped and was pressing on my spinal cord; now I have a new neck with permanent pins and plates!”

Now fully recovered, Chantelle is back on the competition circuit and her victory at Onley Grounds at the start of January marked her first success since the accident. It came with her seven-year-old Linton De La Chapelle, a very promising French-bred son of L’Arc De Triomphe out of a Clinton mare, who was bought just backed three years ago.

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“I went to Onley Grounds with the intention of jumping a few bigger classes and we were sixth in the winter 1.35m,” said Chantelle, a claims inspector for NFU.

“I’m an amateur but when I go in the ring on him I know I’m going to go through the finish — it doesn’t matter if I miss — and that means a lot.”

>> Don’t miss the full report from Onley Grounds winter classic in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound, out Thursday 16 January.

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