Back in the saddle after life-threatening accident

By Mary Dennehy

IN FEBRUARY 2014 Rathcoole jockey Peter Walsh was seriously injured, breaking 30 bones when he was thrown off a horse while riding in America.

Two years down the line and Peter, who is a highly-decorated professional steeplechase rider, is back in the saddle and also playing golf – despite breaking his neck, jaw and losing all power in his right arm two years ago this month.

OCH Oakendale-94

Since the horse accident, Peter has had no power in his right arm due to extensive nerve damage and last month he made the brave decision to have the lost limb amputated.

Growing up in Rathcoole, Peter’s first introduction to horses was from a neighbour called Mrs Boland who kept show-horses – with his uncle Ben Hannon later inspiring him to become a jockey.

During his career, Peter became a highly decorated rider and competed in the prestigious Grand National in Aintree in 1982 before moving to the States in 1985 to pursue his racing career.

Winning many big races before retiring from the racing circuit in 1999, Peter now lives in Philadelphia and has a career in farm management – and enjoys playing golf.

When asked how the accident impacted on his life, Peter said: “Life didn’t change much.

“I had to work hard in recovery and rehabilitation to be able to walk and learn to use only my left hand. But once I got that figured out, I pretty much live my life the same as before the accident.

“You just have to get on with life. I think it helped that I realized how fortunate I was, my accident could have done a lot more damage, I was grateful not to be fully paralyzed.

pfh salem och oak-140

“Once I could get up and move, I was good to go.”

He added: “I think differently since the accident. I have to figure out ways to get things done but I’m grateful I can do just about anything.

“The only thing I was not able to continue after the accident was playing the bagpipes.

“I do miss that, but that was a small part of who I am and what I do.”

According to Peter, the “amazing support” of family, friends and his employer, and thinking about horses, playing golf and getting back to work, helped aid his remarkable recovery, with the Rathcoole native continuing to manage a 200-acre farm and barn, overseeing 20 horses.

When asked what the rest of 2016 holds, Peter told The Echo: “I hope to get home to Rathcoole to see my mom and family, I have been home once since the accident.

“This summer we’re travelling to Kenya for safari, which is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, really looking forward to that and I hope to get plenty of golf in too.”

 

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