Survivors compete well together
It sucked seeing everybody else riding and I’m stuck inside.
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
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-
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.
Piarere’s Paxton Conder and her show jumping horse overcame injuries to finally have success at Horse of the Year.
– Paxton Conder