Rider who overcame broken back hopes to inspire others

  • A rider who has returned to the saddle after she broke her back in a fall hopes to inspire others overcoming injuries.

    Robyn Turner, 27, from Essex, was working on her project horse Erik with her mum when she suffered a fall in August 2015.

    Robyn told H&H: “We‘d bought Erik in June, we knew he was a bit quirky but we took a chance on him. He had been out in a field for two years when we bought him. He had been doing really well, the day before my accident he’d been walking off the lungline happy as Larry but the day of my accident I sat on him and he went like a rodeo horse.

    “My mum had him on the lunge line but she couldn’t hold on to him. I had no reins or stirrups and didn’t stand a chance – I ended up flying up in the air. As I came down he threw me up in the air again, and I landed on my back.

    Robyn’s mum called an ambulance but she was not taken to hospital.

    “I’d rolled on to my stomach because I was in so much pain and I was given gas and air but they thought it was soft tissue damage and I was sent on my way. My mum and I run a livery yard so she finished dealing with the horses and we went home,” said Robyn.

    “I’d been at home for three hours but I couldn’t get comfortable so my mum drove me to A&E and I had to wait another three hours for an X-ray. I can’t really describe the pain, it was something I hadn’t felt before and my back kept going into spasm.”

    The X-ray showed Robyn had a compressed L1 vertebrae fracture and an L2 fracture.

    “I was given a CT scan and my L1 vertebrae looked like it had exploded. The doctors said ‘don’t move you’ve broken your back’. I was absolutely petrified, all I could think was ‘will I be able to ride again?’” said Robyn.

    Robyn underwent spinal surgery and spent six days in hospital, after which she started weekly physio sessions.

    The doctors were really pleased with the operation and they got me up walking quite quickly but I was only allowed to walk for five minutes. My grandparents bought me a reclining chair because I couldn’t get up from a low sofa,” said Robyn.

    “At first I was really affected by the accident and suffered post traumatic stress disorder, if I saw a paramedic or an ambulance I would break down. The only place I felt comfortable was spending time at the yard with my horses.”

    Robyn got back on her horse Duo three months after her accident, but said Erik is not rideable due to health issues.

    “I had a sit on Duo and got back off again. That was all I managed to cope with without going into a panic even though I knew he wouldn’t do anything,” said Robyn. “In springtime 2016 I started getting back into riding properly and got my fitness back up. I had planned to compete Duo that year but we lost him in October 2016 to complications from sinusits.

    “I bought Paddy, a part-bred Connemara, after losing Duo but in May 2017 I broke my wrist so he had some time off. I’ve been slowly bringing him back into work, he has been a superstar for helping me rebuild my confidence – he’s brought it back and up and I’m really enjoying doing everything again. I’m hoping to do a BE80 in April and aim for a BE90 by the end of the season.”

    Robyn hopes to inspire other riders who have been through similar experiences.

    “After my accident, I reached out to people to see if anyone had had a similar accident and got back riding and I found it really helped hearing from others that they had got back doing what they love,” said Robyn.

    “I know everyone is different and you’ve got to think about the risks getting back on a horse – I could hurt myself but at the end of the day the saddle is where I want to be. It’s helped my mental health so much, I was in such a low place so if I can help other people know that after an injury spending time with your horse can really help.

    “I’m not a superstar rider, but for low level people like me you can get back doing what you love again. I hope I can help other people to know after an injury it’s possible to overcome it. I’ve had some people say I’ve inspired them and it’s helped them get in a positive mindframe – the horse community is like a big family which is so lovely. Anything is possible as long as it’s something you love and as long as you understand the risks, then why not?”

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

    You may like...