Jennifer returns to saddle after breaking back

Jennifer Gray and her horse, Katy.
Jennifer Gray and her horse, Katy.

A WOMAN who broke her back when she fell off a horse has got back in the saddle only a year after the accident.

Jennifer Gray, 27, of Broomhill, was taking part in a horse-jumping session just north of Alnwick when her mount bucked and ran away, throwing her off in the opposite direction.

The teacher, who had been riding for around 20 years when the accident happened last February, had to be airlifted to Newcastle’s RVI by the Great North Air Ambulance.

And it was a strange twist of fate for Jennifer’s family as her father was also airlifted after an accident on his farm, around 15 years previously.

Jennifer underwent a series of scans and tests which determined that she had fractured vertebrae in the middle of her back. It meant she was in hospital for three weeks and not allowed to move very much.

Now she is back in the saddle and after a few false starts has even managed to take part in jumping.

Jennifer said: “Because of the way I fell it had a big impact.

“I had already fallen off once and just got back on and was going over some jumps and I don’t know if the horse got a fright or whatever and ran off. It went in the opposite direction so sharply that I went the other way.”

Just before Christmas Jennifer went to the Pegasus Centre at Tranwell, where she started riding again.

She is now riding at the Blue Sky Equestrian Centre in Linton.

“I wanted to see if I still had my nerve,” she said.

“I had fallen off numerous times before but this was extra difficult to do. I was nervous when I got back on but I knew I had to do it at some point.

“I was at Tranwell for quite a while and when I felt more able I went to Blue Sky and they have been absolutely fantastic.

“I never thought I would get back into showjumping and, at first, I just couldn’t do it, but now I am.”

And she said that her advice to others thinking of getting back into riding is to get back into the saddle as soon as possible.

For Jennifer’s dad, Phil, 59, the accident brought back memories.

He had been clearing his tractor radiator of straw when a pipe split spraying him with boiling water.

He managed to get himself to Alnwick Infirmary but the injuries required immediate treatment and he was taken by the Great North Air Ambulance to Wansbeck Hospital.

Both father and daughter praised the air ambulance service and said it was an ‘invaluable’ resource which is vital in north Northumberland.

Jennifer added: “They were absolutely fantastic.”

Ironically, her parents saw the helicopter fly over their farm after they were told she was being airlifted.