A leading amateur jockey has made her return to racing after breaking her back in a fall last year.
Tabitha Worsley broke her T11 and T12 vertebrae in a fall in a hurdle race at Ludlow on 16 November.
She was back in action at the Cottesmore fixture at Garthorpe on 25 February, just over three months since her injury.
“I wanted to get this first ride back under my belt,” Tabitha told H&H. “It felt very good to be back out there.”
Tabitha was injured when The Lion Man clipped the final hurdle in a handicap race at the Herefordshire course, resulting in a nasty fall. The horse was not injured.
“When I hit the ground I was quite winded, I rolled up and over on to my hands and knees to get my breath back, then rolled back on to the ground,” said Tabitha.
“Obviously you hope it is just a bit of bruising.”
Tabitha was taken to Hereford District Hospital, where she stayed overnight before being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for surgery.
Surgeons used six pins and three metal rods to stabilise the fractured vertebrae and Tabitha was allowed home on 20 November.
It was originally thought that the 23-year-old would be out for the rest of the season, but her injuries healed well. Following extensive rehabilitation at the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Oaksey House, it started to look likely that she could be fit to return to the saddle by the end of February.
She visited Oaksey House several times early on in her recovery, later spending two full weeks there.
Tabitha added having the end of February target to work towards helped her focus.
“They worked me hard,” she said. “We did a lot of stuff in the gym, working the right parts of my back and my shoulder [which I also injured in the fall] to get everything back to strength.”
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Tabitha had to be signed on by her surgeon and pass a physio test at Oaksey House before the British Horseracing Authority’s chief medical officer Dr Jerry Hill approved her fit to race again.
She started riding again a week before her comeback race at Garthorpe and thanked her mum and friend Raheela Khan for keeping her horses going at home.
“The whole racing community is amazing,” she added.
“The support from everyone in racing has been unbelievable.”
Tabitha rode her mother Georgina Howell’s Pierlow in the ladies’ open at Garthorpe. They kept up with the field, but pulled up on the second circuit.
Tabitha explained the gelding needed quicker ground and the intention had been to run the horse at Higham, but the fixture was abandoned.
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