A rider who recovered from a serious brain aneurism suffered while on her horse has raised £7,000 for charity and returned to the hunting field.
Caroline Shepherd, 38, from North Yorkshire, had been hunting with her homebred 22-year-old mare Miracle on 27 January when she suffered a bleed on the brain.
Caroline told H&H: “I had said goodbye to friends and was heading back to the trailer on Miracle, and the next thing I remember is waking up in hospital eight days later.
“My friends had gone in the other direction but came across a gate as they were leaving and stopped – otherwise they might not have seen me. By the time they got to me I was on the floor and had turned blue. They performed CPR and called for an ambulance.
“The bleed on my brain caused me to lose consciousness and fall off, it was like a switch had gone off. But Miracle never left my side.”
An air ambulance attended and Caroline began to show signs of regaining consciousness but owing to the seriousness of her condition a second air ambulance attended with a doctor and anaesthetised her.
Caroline underwent surgery and spent eight days on life support before she came round.
“My right side was completely numb, I couldn’t move anything. It’s like no signal was coming from my brain,” said Caroline. “I worked with a physio and I slowly got going. I was determined to walk again and three weeks later I managed to walk unaided – I remember it was a weekend and the physio was only in during the week, they couldn’t believe it when they came back to the hospital and saw me.”
Caroline was released from hospital on 20 February and the next day went to see Miracle.
“When I saw her face that day and her big brown eyes, she just nuzzled me and wrapped her neck right round me,” said Caroline.
Caroline says Miracle has helped her enormously and she returned to riding at the end of August.
“I pushed and pushed myself to get back riding – I got on and it was so emotional. Miracle looks after me, we are very close,” said Caroline.
“Riding has really helped with my balance and core and it’s therapeutic. It has helped lift my mood as I felt quite depressed for a while. Miracle knows when I’m not feeling so good.”
Caroline, who raised £7,000 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance by organising a sold-out charity evening on 7 September, has recently returned to following hounds with the Saltersgate Farmers Hunt.
‘The doctors had said they weren’t sure I would walk again, let alone run‘
The former event rider is now successfully competing in dressage
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“I was determined to make the opening meet this year, I only managed an hour but I did it. I still struggle and get exhausted easily, by the time I tack up sometimes I’m tired but I like to prove to myself I can do it and I have to set myself goals. I just say to myself this is the new me, the old me is gone,” said Caroline.
“I shared my story on Facebook recently and I’ve had so many comments, I can’t believe how many hearts it’s touched and how my story has inspired people.
“I hope to do a full day’s hunting on Boxing Day – that is my next milestone.”
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