Fortunate escape for rider after horrific fall

Harriet Bryce on her point-to-point mount Damien's Dilemma.
Harriet Bryce on her point-to-point mount Damien's Dilemma.

Borders point-to-point rider Harriet Bryce – who fractured her back in four places after her horse fell at the recent Lauderdale Hunt’s Mosshouses meeting – looks set to make a miraculous recovery.

And the 23-year-old, who works as a stable lass at the Clarilawmuir yard of Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd, appreciates just how fortunate she’s been.

“I don’t remember too much about the fall but it looks as though my horse, Damien’s Dilemma, somersaulted after hitting the fence, throwing me over his head,” said Harriet. “As a result, I fractured my L2-L5 vertebrae, although I’m told if the break had been an inch lower down the spine, I probably wouldn’t be able to walk again.”

At first, Harriet thought she’d just winded herself and was more concerned about the condition of her horse, which was unharmed.

However, after trying to get to her feet, it became apparent something more serious had occurred.

She was treated at Borders General Hospital and transferred to the spinal unit of Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where an operation was carried out.

“By Sunday, I was able to walk unsupported and managing to negotiate stairs, so I was given the all-clear to be discharged on Monday,” she said.

However, she has been told a full recovery will take three to four months, and not to expect getting on a horse for at least the next six months.

Harriet has been invited to attend the Injured Jockey Fund’s rehabilitation and fitness centre in Yorkshire for specialist treatment.

Her boyfriend Alex Chadwick is a member of Kelso trainer Sandy Thomson’s stable staff and has been “a fantastic support”, as has Damien’s Dilemma’s owner, Robert Miller-Bakewell.

In fact, Harriet has been overwhelmed by all the good wishes from friends and acquaintances in the racing world.

Her employer, Stuart Coltherd, added: “Harriet has been with us for over four years and is a key member of our team. Nothing seems to faze her and she always has a positive attitude.

“The fact she’s making good progress following such a serious accident comes as no surprise and everyone connected with our yard sends her their very best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.”