Rider overcomes post-concussion syndrome to take coveted under-25 class at Royal Windsor

  • Sienna Charles nailed a clean victory in the Protexin U25s at Royal Windsor Horse Show with the consistent Chinta Van Geluut Z, surging back to form after five months recovering from a serious fall.

    The 19-year-old rider led the field from second to go in a seven-strong jump off, delivering a bold round on her father Peter’s chestnut mare that no one could catch.

    Joe Fernyhough, jumping in final draw on Calcourt Particle, came closest to target, and was the only rider to follow Sienna’s route of taking a stride out to the Martin Collins oxer at the second fence, but he crossed the beam 0.49sec slower.

    “At the beginning, the jump off was quite tricky. I dared her a little bit to number two, as she jumps better when you dare her, and that opened her up a bit for the rest of the round,” Sienna said.

    “Then I made quite a lot of time up to the oxer across the middle, by jumping it on quite a hard angle. I knew I had to set a test for the others.”

    Sienna’s commanding win at Royal Windsor Horse Show was all the more impressive as she only resumed jumping in March after a long recovery from post-concussion syndrome.

    “We went out to Spain to get going again and she won a two-star grand prix out there,” Sienna said. “I said I’d really like to come here for this class and we worked towards that. We went to Le Touquet last week which set us up nicely so we were ready.”

    It was Sienna’s first victory in this class, which she missed last year after having open heart surgery. She resumed jumping, but in September was laid off once again following a serious fall.

    “I fell on my head and carried on for a bit, I went to a show a week later, but then the pain started and my body began to shut down,” she said.

    “I was just lying in bed a lot of the time, I struggled to talk to people because of the pain in my head and I couldn’t even walk.

    “If you don’t have treatment for post-concussion syndrome, it just gets worse, so I went to Hobbs rehab [near Winchester], which is the biggest neurological rehab centre in the UK. We did a lot of visual exercises, which have helped,” she added.

    “I still have bad days now but they are nowhere near as bad.”

    Sienna has had to be mindful of which horses she rides as a result of her injury, especially as she needs to be protective of her neck, and had to pass on one of her top rides, Cointreau, to Harry as he can be a bit “jumpy”.

    “I have to be a bit careful how much I do and I don’t ride the young ones anymore, but Chinta is a safe one,” she said.

    After Royal Windsor Horse Show, Sienna will head to Lisbon and Madrid to represent Great Britain at her first senior Nations Cups, where she will ride Ornellaia.

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