A mother-of-two today told of her astonishing recovery after her body was shattered when a horse crushed her in a horrifying riding accident.
Jennifer Ireland, 47, broke her pelvis in three places, suffered multiple internal injuries and snapped a bone in her spine after a horse fell on her.
She fell and her rump crushed my pelvis. I was screaming to the trainer to get the horse off me
Doctors said the nurse was just a millimetre from being paralysed. She spent three months in a wheelchair and had to learn to walk again.
But she has amazed medics and her family by battling back to health and now plans to run the Fleetwood Half-Marathon for charity.
Jennifer, of North Park Drive, Blackpool, said: “I want to show people that life is not over after an accident like mine, and maybe give patients I see a little bit of hope.”
The accident happened in June 2011 at the Thornton Equestrian Centre when the horse – a 450kg Welsh Section C called Dolly – reared up and landed on Jennifer.
She said: “I was with my trainer Sarah Bowling and we were changing the bridle.
“The horse moved back to take the pressure off and reacted.
“As I pulled down she went on her back legs. Because it was completely out of the blue I went off backwards.
“She fell and her rump crushed my pelvis. I was screaming to the trainer to get the horse off me.
“I just could not get up – my husband to be, David, was there, and he went off and rang paramedics.
“After that it all became a blur. I went on a back board and off to hospital.
“I had scans and found out I had broken my pelvis in three places and snapped my sacrum – I just did not take it all in.”
Jennifer said the pain was excruciating as the horse lay on her for up to a minute, with the incident leaving lasting psychological damage.
“Being crushed you cannot describe the weight of the horse on the pelvic area. You can’t breath. Your whole body is being crushed to death.
“On the scans it revealed the sacrum spine break I had was just one millimetre from putting me in a wheelchair with paralysis,” she said.
“Psychologically it was a lot to deal with.
“Riding horses was my life. I went down to the stables twice a day. Horses now frighten me to death. “When the horse got off it was just relief. Only when I realised I could not move I started to panic.”
Doctors at Royal Preson Hospital, decided not to operate, saying it was too dangerous and her body had to heal naturally.
Growing frustrated by her treatment, Jennifer checked herself out after three days, but after falling at home was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
David, 51, said: “I was about 15 to 20ft away when the horse fell on Jennifer. Myself and the trainer went over to try and get the horse up and off her. When she first fell I had no idea if she would walk again.
“There was a period of depression. She was not going to get better for a long period of time. It is not like an illness or cold, it goes on for months.”
Despite a difficult recovery, David proposed to Jennifer six months later on holiday in Devon.
After slowly progressing from being in bed, to a wheelchair, to using a walking frame and then crutches, Jennifer made a major decision last year to take up running.
She said she still experiences pain and discomfort and has to take anti-inflammatory pills, but described the “euphoria” of running.
She added: “I began running again after a patient suggested it to me. Once a week I run at MNCC – The Monday Night Cake Club. We run near Stanley Park and all we have to do is bring cake. It has been amazing. I love the freedom of running.”
Jennifer is now in training for the Fleetwood Half Marathon in August. She is running in aid of Blue Skies Hospitals Fund’s Heart of Gold Charitable Fund, which supports the Lancashire Cardiac Centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
To donate to Jennifer’s run, go to www.justgiving.com/Jennifer-Ireland2/