A rider has shared the story of her life-changing accident in the hope of inspiring other equestrians not to give up. Kirstin Tricker’s accident took place three years ago, but it impacted her life for far longer than she expected.

On 7 January 2021, Kirstin led her then five-year-old mare, Dior, into the indoor school to have a roll and let off some steam, as the horses had limited turnout that time of year. She was waiting to let the mare go as someone was still riding in the nearby outdoor school when things quickly escalated.

“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and my mare reared up and bucked, and kicked me straight in my right eye,” she said. “I remember everything, I had ringing in my ears and there was a lot of blood, I did scream and my first thought was that I had lost my eye.

“The girls at the yard – one being a nurse – were brilliant, and calmed me down and called an ambulance. My horse was in as much shock as me, she doesn’t have a nasty bone in her body, but this affected me in more ways than I initially realised.”

An ambulance took Kirstin to hospital and she wasn’t allowed to be accompanied due to covid restrictions. She was given a CT scan and sent home for the night. The following day she returned to hospital and saw several consultants and was told she had fractured her sinus, cheekbone and eye socket and nearly severed her optic nerve.

Two weeks later she underwent surgery to put her cheekbone back into position. The surgery went well and a plate was inserted into Kirstin’s cheekbone, however she still doesn’t have full sensation in her nose and lip due to nerve damage.

Eight weeks after the accident, she was back riding but it became apparent a few weeks later that even though she had healed physically, mentally she had a long way to go.

“I would suffer flashbacks on my way to the yard and I would get quite angry easily,” Kirstin said. “I was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and later on severe depression.”

Despite this Kirstin continued to ride and even compete. However, it became clear she was still affected by the trauma, despite having cognitive behavioural therapy and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy.

“I struggled to stay motivated, I didn’t enjoy horses at all and I was very shut down and was suffering with my mental health,” she said. “I continued to have lessons, but I know I was difficult to teach because I wasn’t really here and I was just going through the motions, but my coach at the time was very supportive. I was incredibly close to giving it all up, however I didn’t and I am incredibly glad of this.

“I went back to therapy and even had EFT [emotionally-focused therapy] sessions, I moved yards to a lovely, small yard with incredibly kind and supportive people and a couple of months ago, I realised that my confidence and enjoyment had come back. It was such a huge relief, to feel like I can ride again and want to ride.”

Kirstin has since competed in one-day-events, hunter trials and dressage, as well as hacking alone and in groups – something which gave her a panic attack just a few months ago, we have also done 20km fun rides. She and Dior have also enjoyed clinics and camps. The pair are now working towards their first British Eventing competition in March.

“Dior and I have a really good relationship, which continues to go from strength-to-strength and I feel incredibly lucky to have found her as a three-year-old,” she added. “I wanted to share my story with others as I know what it is like to lose your self-belief, confidence and enjoyment in something you love, but I also know what it is like to come through the other side.

“It is hard but it can be done and I am glad I never gave up. I am grateful to everyone who has been a part of our journey so far, who has supported us and never given up on us.”

Related articles