Eighteen months after a potentially career-ending fall, Ballard returns to the top level of show jumping - not just competing, but winning.
TORONTO, Nov. 7, 2014 /CNW/ - One year ago, Tottenham's Erynn Ballard had one hunter horse at Toronto's Royal Horse Show and was wondering if she would ever jump again.
Today she is preparing Appy Cara for the first round of the $100,000 Greenhawk Canadian Show Jumping Championships, before participating in next week's international division among the best in the world.
On May 29, 2013, Ballard had, what by all accounts was a "spectatular" fall. Breaking collarbone, shoulder joint and shattering her scapula from the inside out, her orthopaedic surgeon strongly suggested she may wish to re-think the riding career.
"The surgeon said two things to me," explained Ballard. "I don't know why you girls insist on riding horses... All I do is put people back together again," and "If you compromise this nerve you will be in serious trouble."
With her arm almost paralysed, Ballard could bend her elbow and use a few fingers but couldn't move her arm between elbow and shoulder.
"I was sure I would be riding again by July," Ballard laughed in hindsight. "But once I started physio, I was amazed at what I still was not able to do. Part of physio, once I was allowed to drive the seven minutes from my house to the barn, was to reach across and take my arm and manually position it on the steering wheel, because I still couldn't move it."
Inspired by the incredible recovery of her beloved dog, Ohno, Ballard explained she never would have believed recovery was possible if Ohno had not also undergone physio and recovery just prior to her accident. But it wasn't until her mom, Sandi, stepped in, that she contemplated getting back in the tack.
"I was able to teach and travel but I still was not able to ride," Ballard explained. "One day I just turned to mom and said 'Maybe I never have to ride again, and then maybe I'll never hurt like this again.' To which she replied 'Maybe it's time for you to sit on a horse again.' So I sat on a horse with no movement in my arm. But I was back on a horse."
The 2013 Royal was an accomplishment for Ballard simply for showing up - she had one hunter horse and took home not a single ribbon. It was never a question - she would not miss competing at The Royal.
Fast forward to the one-year anniversary of the accident. Ballard approached fellow rider and horse show organizer Keean White about a horse named Appy Cara. White was competing elsewhere and Ballard asked what the plans were for the horse. White offered the ride while he was away, and a month later it was clear the pair had firmly bonded.
This past summer Ballard and Appy Cara moved up over 400 placings on the Longines Rankings list, solidifying a place in the Greenhawk Canadian Championships and more recently qualifying for the prestigious second week's international division at The Royal.
"I already know that I have a better chance than I have had before," said Ballard. "I haven't ever done the hunter derbies at The Royal and now I have two horses qualified. And Appy? He's spoiled, but he nickers at me and it melts my heart. I am walking into The Royal with such good feelings this time. To be at that level again where you can consider yourself a contender - to consider the possiblity of being on a Team again. Walking into the ring feeling like I have a chance to WIN. There's nothing like it."
The Royal Horse Show opens tonight with the first of two rounds in the Greenhawk Canadian Show Jumping Championships, as well as Horseware Indoor Eventing. The second and final rounds take place tomorrow evening in the Horse Show.
About the Royal Horse Show and 92nd Royal Agricultural Winter Fair ~ The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is the world's largest combined indoor agricultural and equestrian show. This year, The 92nd Royal Agricultural Winter Fair runs November 7-16, 2014 in the Direct Energy Centre and Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. The Royal Horse Show CSI4*-W is just one of a handful of 'four-star' competitions in North America and was voted the number one indoor horse show in North America by the North American Riders Group. To purchase tickets, request media accreditation, view competition schedules, LIVE webcasting, and for complete results please visit www.royalfair.org.
Image with caption: "Tottenham's Erynn Ballard and Appy Cera fly over the open water at a competition this summer. The pair have qualified to compete in both the prestigious international division as well as the Greenhawk Canadian Show Jumping Championships at Toronto's Royal Horse Show running November 7-16 at Ricoh Coliseum, Exhibition Place. Photo: BenRadvanyi.com (CNW Group/Royal Agricultural Winter Fair)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20141107_C2766_PHOTO_EN_7705.jpg
SOURCE: Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
For further information: Horse Show Press Chief: Michelle Dunn, AIPS / IAEJ, c. 905-464-3056, [email protected]