Top eventer biffs: "just a flesh wound!"

I don’t know whether to laugh or roll my eyes :joy: Apparently Jeanette Brakewell fell off a horse and in typical eventer fashion said "I probably wasn’t knocked out for more than five minutes.” - no worries then!

“Jeanette’s team … brought blankets and a lunge line to take the horse, who was not injured, home.”

Well that’s a relief! Meanwhile they left Jeanette lying on the frozen dirt, it sounds like?

“An ambulance arrived in around 40 minutes (no they were not stopping to get her some hot tea as far as I can tell) to take Jeanette to Derby Hospital” where she was found to only have 5 fractured ribs and a damaged lung. She spent 4 nights in hospital and will be doing the London marathon on Wednesday.



" I can dress myself but not chop firewood yet so I’ll take a week off" LOL LOL LOL


As somebody whose parent had the same attitude as Brakewell when she fell off and now am dealing with her serious personality changes and dementia, I no longer think the bravado is funny nor admirable.

I have another family member who has a World Cup top ten and 30 GP wins (including a Nations Cup) and now is dealing with retirement because their back literally broke this summer as they warmed up a horse (literally broke while riding). We grew up believing we could out tough any horse and now they pay the price.

We need to change the culture of bravado. We would never admire somebody if they took a similar attitude to their horses. We need to encourage injured people to be smart and take their healing and recovery seriously.


Sorry to hear about your mother, Reed. That’s got to be so tough on everyone.

As I get older I realize we need to be wiser. The old “tough it out” stories aren’t aspirational any more.

In this case, I do think the Brits have a different style of self-deprecation, especially when reporting on themselves, than we North Americans. It sounds like she’s got to get back to making her living, an unfortunate reality for many.


While I agree with @RAyers about changing attitudes to human injuries, fortunately there is increasing knowledge and support available to deal with them. The dedicated facilities that are in place to assist injured jockeys are available to other riders too. I’m sure Janette Brakewell will be getting specialist advice to deal with her recovery.


Reading the article, I do not think it was bravado at all. Am I missing it? She seemed quite sensible .

“Jeanette Brakewell said the fall means she may have to delay her first competitions at the start of the season for a few weeks, but she hopes she can work on her own fitness even before she starts riding – when she broke her ankle a few years ago, she benefited from sessions at the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Jack Berry House”


@Pennywell_Bay, I agree, to the explicit point you state. The knowledge she had a 5 minute blackout does not spell good news for her brain though and that needs to be recognized. The fact she used the words “wasn’t knocked out for more…” is where the culture needs to change. That 5 minutes is significant in her risk of future head trauma. It could be years from now but a more minor hit has already increased in significance of more permanent damage to her.

And the NHS is not the most reliable health system by reputation in the medical world due to underfunding, understaffing, and overcrowding. While they say “no head injury” if she was truly unconscious, there was a head injury. No questions, don’t pass go.

Using Brakewell as the example and not commenting on the decisions, the idea she intends to do the London Marathon is just foolish. That is bravado there. The marathon has nothing to do with her business or such. And while she is trusting her doctors’ opinions, there is jarring that occurs that can exacerbate the brain damage already incurred. I know enough horse folks who are losing mental acuity after multiple small hits. Would she ask a horse to do gallop sets after it was knocked out for 5 minutes until she was sure all health boxes were ticked?

My point of all of this is to utilize this as an example of the need to change the horse world away from “I’m tougher than anybody” to concerted managed risk where riders actually treat themselves as well as their horses.


Sums it up pretty well.

Actually that was a joke on my part, to add to the list of surely-she’s-kidding statements in the article. Similarly “just a flesh wound” is a reference to ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, but then “Explaining humor is a lot like dissecting a frog, you learn a lot in the process, but in the end you kill it…” :woman_shrugging:


I see some dry British humor.


I agree with your statement that riders need to start taking injury seriously. I also think anyone going above Prelim has to have a very strong mental game in terms of compartmentalization etc to do it. If they sat down and pored over the risks, the would likely never try it. So maybe look at her comments through that lens.

That doesn’t mean riders can’t talk a big game AND look after themselves, and in fact while she sounds blasé in the article we actually don’t know exactly how she looked after herself after this injury. TBH, I felt the angle was more “the horse’s welfare came first” and that’s a typically British take.


I get (and agree with) your point, but also feel like maybe you didn’t read the actual article since it really doesn’t read like a “culture of bravado.” You seem to be misattributing a specific attitude to Brakewell based on someone else’s post.

She said she “probably wasn’t knocked out for more than five minutes,” and was found not to have a head injury.

She said she will “‘behave’ during her recovery from the fall and not do anything that hurts.”

She also said she "won’t take risks or be silly. These things happen, much as you don’t plan them, and if they happen you’ve got to deal with it and be sensible. My office work will be well up to speed in the next couple of days.”

I’m not getting the bravado or attitude you seem to be.


A serious concussion is defined as any loss of consciousness. Period. So even under 5 minutes means an MRI would likely have found a brain bleed (if she had a MRI).

In my younger days I jumped in GPs and evented up to Advanced with regular seasons at OI. I know the lingo and the attitude. And even now when I run preliminary I have parts of it.

But as a person who sees athletes, including horsemen, with broken bodies that need to be reconstructed, my POV has changed. There is still a culture of “gutting” things out when the reality is that it does more damage.

For example. I had a nasty crash at Trojan Horse AZ 21 years ago in prelim. I broke ribs and tore my right adductor. I was back on within a few days because I wanted to go to the long at Camino Real in TX. It took a year to recover and during that time I developed bad habits to protect the injury that hindered both my horse and my skills. To this day I still limp on my right leg (also due to neurogenic causes) from all the crashes before and after after (but that is when the limp started to become pronounced).

And as I pointed out, I am NOT commenting on Brakewell specifically but the language surrounding her crash and injuries as examples of a culture that is not conducive to safety and concerted management of risk.


If she fell off and was knocked out due to the injury to her lung and many broken ribs, that is not a concussion. Nowhere does it say she hit her head.


It actually sounded like she blacked out from the pain.

This is so embarrassing in a thread about terrible injuries, but one of the ones that freaked me out the most was a wee tumble from a pony when I was just learning to ride that knocked the wind out of me to the point of screwing up my breathing for an hour. Unable to speak, hyperventilating, the works. So with broken ribs and the wind knocked from her, I can see how the mind would just shut down.

I agree about the need to end a culture of bravado, but I also think in the UK especially there is a frowning upon taking either physical or mental injuries too seriously in an obvious way.


You don’t need to pass out to have a concussion.
You don’t need to have a concussion to have a head injury.
You don’t need to hit your head to have a head injury.
There is no medical test to rule out a head injury.
A person cannot self assess their head injury.

This is a comment on some of the comments here, not on the original article.


A person cannot self assess their head injury.

48 hours ago, I had a tumble despite how guarded I am on a young horse. Out of the blue, my horse just stopped while cantering and I don’t know what happened until I was on the ground.

I blacked out for at least 30 seconds listening to everyone fret around me. I couldn’t respond. I had busted my face leaving me with domestic abuse type injuries. I had no idea. Before I knew it, I was being helped back onto the horse and away I went. Brushing off the incident the rest of the ride while I responded to genuine concerns. Not fully grasping I hit my head, I just continued to ride in a daze. After, I look in the mirror and had dried blood streaming down my face from my lip and a black eye.

I should not have gotten back on the horse. I hit my head AND had whiplash. All those around me SHOULD have told me me to go back to trailers . I honestly could not judge for myself. The blood on my pants and stock tie did not register. Bravado from me and others to get back on probably drove this decision. My bravado is dwindling, and my caution is rising.

I get this article. It makes sense to me. It took me an appendectomy and a strongly worded (with swear words) from my surgeon not to work or ride. I listened and don’t have a hernia. God forbid I get hurt from a horse, the show must go on…

For all the safety gurus, I had a CO Mips skull cap purchased 6 months ago and will be getting a discount for a new helmet.I absolutely hit my head. Ironically, my safety vest was not on and I don’t have any rib/shoulder injuries it’s so out dated I’m shocked the foam isn’t dust. I did buy a new vest with much higher standards.


Considering that the adult child of a very well known local/regional professional (who has competed at 4* including Rolex) flipped a horse at a schooling day a couple of years ago and got back on and continued…never say never :unamused:

That said… I agree with you 100%.


But you do need to injure your head to have a head injury. There is nothing in the article that she injured her head, so I’m not sure why we would assume otherwise.

I don’t disagree with anything you said regarding a concussion, and was not commenting on head injuries. Increased awareness in the community regarding concussion symptoms and post-concussion syndrome will only benefit the sport’s participants. My only point in my comments is people seem to be reading “knocked out” as “head injury” which isn’t necessarily true.


Agreed. I came off and landed on a fence when I was about 13. Got back on, rode the rest of the day although I was definitely in pain. I was in pain for months but scared that my parents would stop me from riding. Years later when I was x-rayed for abdominal issues the doctor asked when I’d broken my ribs. That explains the summer of pain. At my ripe old middle middle-age, I would definitely go to the doctor if I have that kind of pain.