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Paralysed show jumper Kelda Morgan back in the saddle after career threatening injury

"I was temporarily paralysed, I couldn't feed myself," said Kelda.
Image caption "I was temporarily paralysed, I couldn't feed myself," said Kelda.

Ten months ago Kelda Morgan was left temporarily paralysed from a fall at Eglinton equestrian centre in County Londonderry.

The Donegal show jumper spent 11 days at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital where she was told by her consultant that she was "very, very lucky".

"I was temporarily paralysed, I couldn't feed myself," said Kelda. She feared her career was over.

It was early October when the accident happened. The 35-year-old was at the Northern indoor championships when her horse stumbled, misjudged a fence and hit the top rail.

The horse fell, bringing her down with it. Kelda landed head first into the ground.

"I don't remember anything really, I was out for a good while," she said.

"I think it was more scary for everybody else, including my partner. I think it was a lot for him to see," she said.

"I couldn't lift my spoon up to my mouth"

Paramedics rushed Kelda to Altnagelvin Hospital before she was transferred to a specialist team in Belfast.

She had sustained serious head and spinal injuries.

"I had a CT scan and an MRI. It was damage to the C6 to C8 so neck injury and obviously bad concussion, " she said.

"I was temporarily paralysed, I couldn't feed myself. It was down my legs at the start and then it affected my arms so I couldn't lift my arms.

"My partner, Willie, had to feed me, I couldn't lift my spoon up to my mouth for at least a week.

"I had horrible pins and needles down both arms. I still wouldn't know whether I've got hot or cold water on me."

Kelda said she just tried to focus on her recovery and pushed through the pain.

"I was thinking maybe if the consultant says "don't ride again" then I wouldn't ride again because that would be stupid."

Image caption Kelda Morgan was delighted to be back competing on Wednesday

Kelda embarked upon an intensive regime to regain the full function of her body.

"I had constant physiotherapy, always exercising. I was just trying to push myself through it."

She said she was committed to getting better but tried not to think about it too much.

On Kelda's return to hospital in January, however, doctors were able to give her the news she was hoping for.

"They said 'you're fit, you're strong. Do this - walk down that line.' And they were like 'yes you can ride again. Get on with it'."

Getting back on the horse was an easier decision for Kelda than many would expect.

Kelda returned to the show jumping arena this week where she is competing at the Dublin horseshow.

Even after such a traumatic accident, she said show jumping is still more than a hobby; it is her livelihood.

"I need to make my money somehow. Obviously, I've changed a lot since the accident, I'm concentrating more on quality and less on quantity, taking in too many hardy, rough horses and just concentrating on better horses.

"If you thought like that you wouldn't do anything. You've got to take some kind of chance in life."