A Wroot horsewoman rode to victory in a major event. . . despite suffering serious injuries in an horrific fall just one week before.
Sarah-Jo Wicks was lucky to survive being trampled after she fell under her 16 hands high Irish palomino mare ‘Prevailing Wind’ when she took fright while out on a ride.
But the 36-year-old, a thyroid cancer survivor who represents Britain in para show jumping in France in May, got back in the saddle with three cracked ribs – to win South Wold Hunter Trials’ Novice Horse section outright in her bay mare Tinker Time’s debut event.
It will be Sarah’s first time with the para-British squad. She was invited in to the team as she rides without one finger and with back injuries that were caused by another riding accident four years ago; her wedding ring finger was ripped off when it caught as her horse bolted and she was dragged for some distance.
Mum of two Sarah, of High Street, said of her most recent trauma: “My horse reared up vertically and I bailed out as I thought she was going to fall back on to me. But she came down with her two front legs on my chest and it felt like she’d gone right through to my back.
“I thought I’d had it....I couldn’t breathe. And stupidly I wasn’t wearing my body protector. I will never ride without it now, and would urge every rider to do the same. I was so lucky to walk away from this one.”
A friend’s husband saw the incident and came to Sarah’s rescue, and tests at Doncaster Royal Infirmary showed her lung was not punctured, as was feared. But her body had turned black and she had three cracked ribs.
Her bolted horse was caught by another villager and she said everyone in Wroot was “fantastic” in turning out to help as word spread.
“It was horrendous, and it’s been pain killers all through the nights since. I’m suffering from competing again so soon but I needed the practice so was determined to do it,” said Sarah, whose same strength got her through thyroid cancer after she turned 30. “I don’t often ride out with the horses. I just didn’t see this coming.”
For her GB debut from May 12 to 19 in La Baule, Western France, Sarah has been training with Selena Caukwell of Milton Equestrian Centre, Worksop. She has been eventing over three years and took part in a para-showjumping event at the Scope Festival, Shropshire, last August, where she finished fourth on an ex-racehorse, ‘Nothing’s Easy’, that she had ridden for only four weeks.
In France, she will be one of a team of 12, and they will compete against teams from Germany, Finland and France in the FEI five-star international event organised by the British Show Jumping Association.
“I am nervous and try to stay focused. I’ve two more events before then so hope all goes as planned,” added Sarah. “They are trying to raise awareness of para-equestrian sports. I’m left-handed so the loss of my finger has affected me a lot, and I still have weekly physiotherapy on my twisted spine, that causes me to ride to one side.”