Borders horse and rider take show win following remarkable recoveries

Christina Chesser and Muffin from Earlston. Muffin has been fitted with a pacemaker and Christina suffered severe injuries after a riding accident.
Christina Chesser and Muffin from Earlston. Muffin has been fitted with a pacemaker and Christina suffered severe injuries after a riding accident.
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AN ASPIRING Borders eventer and her horse Muffin have defied outstanding odds to not only compete again, but pick up a category win at the Border Union Show.

In April this year, Earlston resident Christina Chesser was involved in a horrific accident when the horse she was riding did a back flip and landed on top of her.

Twenty-year-old Christina sustained five fractures to her pelvis and two to her spine, while the horse she was riding had to be put down. After being stabilised at Borders General Hospital, Christina, formerly of Galashiels, was transferred to the intensive care unit at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh where she had an internal and external fixation to repair the bones.

“At the very beginning the doctors told me it would take about a year until I could ride again, but I have recovered a lot quicker than I, or anybody else, thought.

“I still take quite a few painkillers and have to go to physiotherapy sessions and the hydro pool, but I’m very impatient and am maybe trying to do a bit more than I should be.

“It was worth it on Friday, though, when we got back into the show ring again.”

The ‘we’ Christina refers to is herself and her 14.3 hands high coloured cob Muffin, who himself has not had an easy ride over the past few years.

Now 13 years old, Muffin came into Christina’s care at the age of three after he had been hit by a car.

Some TLC from Christina and her mum Carol saw to it that Muffin began to cope with his traffic fear, but in July last year the horse became unwell. After further investigations by John Keen, from Selkirk, at the Royal Dick Veterinary College in Edinburgh, Muffin was diagnosed with having heart block.

Christina explained: “Our options were to have him put down or have a pacemaker and we decided to risk the latter which John has only done once before.”

The team included specialists from the Royal Infirmary who volunteered to assist. After three attempts at fitting the artificial aid, and 13 weeks of being strapped upright, the operation was declared a success and last July he won his show class at Kelso, which he repeated this year ridden by his brave owner.

“Considering Muffin has hardly done any work at all since my accident, he did amazingly well,” said Christina.

“I’m so proud of him. He was so good during all his treatment and just let the vets get on with it. If he hadn’t had the operation we would have had to have him put down as his heart was failing.”

Currently employed by Claire Marshall of Lauder as a groom, Christina is the youngest of three sisters and, luckily for her, both elder sisters are nurses. She started riding at the age of two and was youngest rider at the Braw Lads’ Gathering two years on the trot.

“I would love to do more eventing and I really enjoy bringing on young horses and schooling them,” she added.