Young rider who fractured her back wins showjumping award three months later

  • A young rider who fractured her back in October is back in the saddle – and has been named the first British Showjumping (BS) NAF Shining Star of 2020.

    Izzy Thomas, from Northamptonshire, fell from her pony Ilona in the Cherwell Competition Centre car park, having left the arena after her round.

    “It was an absolute nightmare,” her mum Natasha told H&H.

    “She’d just jumped the British novice and was pootling along the walkway round the warm-up on the buckle. Although we’d been there all weekend and the pony hadn’t been bothered, she suddenly jumped a puddle. Izzy caught her with her leg and she bronced, and Izzy was on the floor.

    “They fall and you think ‘She’s fine, get back up’, then the paramedic said: ‘I think you need an ambulance’.

    “It had rained loads and she managed to fall in the biggest puddle there but, of course, she wasn’t allowed to move.”

    Izzy, 14, was taken to hospital, where she was scanned and told she was uninjured but advised to take things steadily.

    Then the next day, doctors rang to say a specialist had looked at the scans and realised she had fractured her T5 vertebra.

    “Thankfully, she’d been too sore to do anything but it was nasty,” Natasha said, joking that it was “an absolute nightmare” trying to keep her active daughter quiet to recover.

    “She was going away with a friend to Greece 10 days later and she was allowed to go, although not to do half the things she wanted to do. They did manage to find a donkey out there, and I said ‘Don’t you dare!’

    “But it did her the world of good; we were very, very lucky. If she does as she’s told, she’ll be fine.”

    This month, Izzy was named the January NAF Shining Star, a monthly award given to a BS junior academy member who has shown “a great deal of commitment, progression and outstanding behaviour along with their riding ability and much more”. She was nominated by her coaches Mia Palles Clark and Alison Tee.

    Natasha said: “I’m very, very proud. She didn’t get it for her results, but for her grit and determination. She hasn’t got easy ponies but Mia and Alison admired the way she’s kept at it.

    “Everyone wants to win classes but for us, it’s about jumping double clear and she really works on her flatwork. The academy has changed everything for her.”

    Izzy told H&H the first thing she remembers after the fall is asking whether she could jump her next class.

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    “Then it was ‘I’ve got a show next weekend; can I just go to that and then rest for a bit!’” she said.

    “They also wanted to cut my boots off. I didn’t get away with the jodhpurs and shirt but they saved my jacket and boots so I was happy with that.”

    Izzy said she was surprised and very pleased to win the award.

    “My ponies don’t go out and win every weekend; I just want them to go well,” she said.

    “I want to be successful in juniors; everyone on the circuit wants to go to the Horse of the Year Show and Hickstead and that would be brilliant; I’d like to jump the qualifiers, but I just want them to go as well as possible in the time I’ve got.”

    Izzy said while she would love to be a professional showjumper, she realises how tough it could be to get there so aims to work hard and train as an equine vet.

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