Rider in intensive care after injury sustained saving a stranger’s horses from fire

An international dressage rider is fighting for life after sustaining a severe head injury while rescuing a stranger’s horses from a yard ravaged by bush fires.

German rider Janina Kletke, who is based in Australia, responded to a phone call in the early hours of Monday, 4 March asking if she could collect four horses from a burnt-out property in Garfield North, Victoria.

The 34-year-old was accompanied to the property by a County Fire Authority (CFA) crew, but was involved in an accident while loading the fourth horse.

She was taken to the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, where she has since been kept in an induced coma in the intensive care unit.

Janina had earlier evacuated her own horses to a friend’s farm as wildfires closed in on the area and had posted on Facebook asking if anyone needed help. A woman responded at 2am, prompting Janina to head out to the property.

A Gofundme page, which aims to raise Aus$100,000, has been set up for the rider and paid tribute to her ability and the regard in which she is held.

“Janina has bought a wealth of knowledge and invaluable expertise to Australian dressage. Having people like Janina here in Australia is so important for the longevity of our sport. This is our chance to give her our support and thanks back when she needs it the most,” it said.

Alongside the Gofundme campaign, the local equestrian community has also rallied round the popular rider, with a “jump 4 Janina clinic” organised for this weekend (16 March); while racehorse trainer Chris Diplock, who described Janina as one of his wife’s closest friends, was also running his horse Non Paear at Moonee Valley on Friday (15 March) in her honour.

A friend of Janina’s said that her condition had remained unchanged since the accident and that they were raising money to help support her horses.

“As Janina’s primary source of income is from her equine business, Janina Kletke German Dressage, which of course cannot run at the present moment, the funds will be used to ensure her horses and other animals are cared for, as she would want us to ensure they continue to receive the very best of care,” she said. “We also want to cover any medial expenses, not just at the moment but ongoing.”

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