Equestrian community unites to support injured rider’s recovery

  • The equestrian community has rallied together in support of Essex-based rider Robert Walker, who was seriously injured in a fall earlier this year.

    The hunting and showing enthusiast sustained spinal injuries in a rotational hunting fall on 18 January.

    His horse — former champion working hunter Orbital — was not injured.

    Mr Walker is currently in Stanmore Hospital but his family and friends are raising funds so he can be transferred to the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Oaksey House for rehabilitation.

    An online auction launched this evening (1 May) will run for 48 hours, with further auctions in the next two weeks to cover the dozens of lots on offer.

    Among the items are hunting experiences, including a day for two with the Ledbury Foxhounds. This includes dinner with showman Robert Oliver and stabling and bed and breakfast at the Corse Lawn House Hotel.

    Rob Walker with Harriet and Grace Chittenden

    Lessons will also be up for auction, including a training session with Allister Hood at his home in Norfolk, as well as lunch for the rider and their family.

    A faux Horse & Hound cover, holidays, tickets to Horse of the Year Show, an extensive wine hamper and a personalised photoshoot are also up for grabs, alongside many other lots.

    “We have launched this online auction, with all the lots being donated by the showing and hunting circuit pulling together, to try and help fund Rob’s transfer to and stay at Oaksey House,” said Mr Walker’s fiancé Olivia-Jade Greig.

    “We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity shown, and what started as a small idea has grown into something really exciting that will have a huge positive impact for someone very special to us all.”

    Ms Greig said Mr Walker has a complete T4/5 fracture with a fixation and a bulging disc at C2/3, which has caused tetraplegic paralysis affecting all four limbs.

    “However he has experienced significant flickers in several fingers which, it is hoped, may lead to the use of his arms in future with the possible intervention of surgery and specialist Hobbs Rehabilitation and physiotherapy at the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Oaksey House,” she added.

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    “Therefore we are desperately trying to raise money to aid his rehabilitation by funding his transfer to – and stay at – Oaksey House, the renowned clinic for injured jockeys.

    “Rob is booked in for a taster week in June, and all being well, will then spend the whole of July there – we hope this auction will fund all this rehabilitation and longer at Oaksey House if needed.”

    The auction will begin at 7pm at www.facebook.com/groups/699672936901808

    Popular horseman

    Originally from Worcestershire, Mr Walker has been amateur whip to the Essex Hunt and is a regular with the Essex Farmers and Union Hunt.

    He is also a popular figure on the showing circuit.

    He bred and formerly owned the successful hunter Bournebrook Golden Law, who is still the only horse to have won the ladies’ class at Horse of the Year Show three times, standing supreme there in 2005.

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