Sur­vivors com­pete well to­gether

It sucked see­ing every­body else rid­ing and I’m stuck in­side.

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By ABBY BROWN

A Piarere res­i­dent, Pax­ton Con­der, es­caped death by mil­lime­tres and went on to not only com­pete at Horse of the Year, but to also win a class.

‘‘It was about two mil­lime­tres off my spinal cord and if it got that it cuts off your breath­ing so I would have been a goner,’’ the 20-year-old said of break­ing the C1 ver­te­brate in her neck seven months ago. She had been school­ing a steeple chaser.

‘‘We clipped the top of a jump and down we went.’’

The in­jury meant she couldn’t travel to the Mel­bourne Cup to look af­ter one of the horses that was rac­ing at the car­ni­val.

At the same time, her show jump­ing horse was re­cov­er­ing from a colic op­er­a­tion where they had re­moved six feet of his in­tes­tine. Most horses don’t sur­vive the op­er­a­tion.

The two fi­nally man­aged to get to Horse of the Year, af­ter years of horse in­juries had kept Con­der from the pre­mier event. At the March event Con­der won a big show hunter class, placed in oth­ers and was sec­ond in the ju­nior rider class. In this class she was up against the best ju­nior rid­ers in the coun­try.

Af­ter the steeple chas­ing ac­ci­dent most of her friends had asked her what she would do now that rid­ing was out of the ques­tion. She had been rid­ing since she was two.

‘‘ It’s al­ways been my life. I haven’t re­ally known any dif­fer­ent.’’

Get­ting back into was a long process.

She ad­mit­ted she was the ‘‘ worst pa­tient’’ dur­ing the six

the

sad­dle months she was ride.

‘‘It sucked see­ing every­body else rid­ing and I’m stuck in­side and ev­ery­thing I tried to do I would get yelled at ‘be care­ful!’’’

For three of those months she had to wear a neck brace. She had to at­tend a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro-

not

al­lowed

to gramme at a gym for six weeks be­fore she could do ground work at the rac­ing sta­bles then get back into train­ing race horses.

‘‘The 4am starts were not so fun af­ter sleep­ing in for six months,’’ she laughed.

While she had not been able to ride her hunter, a friend had been keep­ing her horse fit.

Just three weeks be­fore Horse of the Year, Con­der got clear­ance to ride from her doc­tors. She only had to have suc­cess at two shows to qual­ify for the Horse of the Year.

‘‘ Most sea­son.’’

Con­der had al­ready rep­re­sented New Zealand in the un­der-16 and un­der- 17 New Zealand show jump­ing teams in New Cale­do­nia and South Africa in 2010 and 2011.

Con­der will use her am­a­teur jockey li­cense to ride in the Am­a­teur Rider Se­ries. Am­a­teur jock­eys don’t have a weight re­stric­tion. Her first am­a­teur race will be May 7.

She is also com­plet­ing her last year of a uni­ver­sity de­gree in hos­pi­tal­ity and re­source man­age­ment, plan­ning to man­age an over­seas race course. Her jockey work pays for her study.

peo­ple

take

a

whole

Photo: ABBY BROWN

Piarere’s Pax­ton Con­der and her show jump­ing horse over­came in­juries to fi­nally have suc­cess at Horse of the Year.

– Pax­ton Con­der

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