‘He has an iron will’: French event rider takes first steps after waking from coma

French event rider Thibault Fournier has taken his first steps after waking from a coma following a cross-country fall.

The 24-year-old, who became the youngest winner of Pau CCI4* (now five-star) in 2018, was airlifted to hospital on 13 October after a fall while riding Chactas Chalonges at Pompadour Horse Trials.

The seven-year-old gelding was uninjured.

An update on the French rider’s Facebook page on Saturday (2 November) said he had started walking.

He can take a few steps and rehabilitation started on Tuesday [29 October],” said a statement.

“All this is very tiring for him but all the caregivers agree that he has an iron will.”

French competitors at this year’s Pau wore orange armbands for the final showjumping phase in honour of their countryman.

“For those of you who ask when can you go and see him, understand that you have to wait,” added the statement.

“After his coma and now with all these exercises, he must rest and sleep a lot — sleep to recover!

“Thanks again for all your kind regards, your words, and all these orange armbands that made him whisper ‘c’est trop gentil’ (it’s too nice).”

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A previous update from Thibault’s mother, Isabelle Fournier-Jouve, on 19 October stated there was a “little glow of hope” as her son had opened his eyes. Four days later, she shared the news that he was no longer on breathing support nor sedated.

The Frenchman has had success across the international circuit, representing France at the 2015 young rider Europeans and taking the runner-up spots at both Chatsworth 2016 and Bramham under-25s in 2018 respectively.

These results and his 2018 Pau victory came aboard the 13-year-old Selle Français gelding Siniani De Lathus.

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