Huntsman tells of miraculous escape

A LEADING huntsman who broke his back in an horrific horse riding accident spoke last night of his miraculous escape from more serious injuries.James Buckle, 39, joint master of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds, was cantering across a field during a hunt when his horse caught its front feet in a hole and somersaulted before landing on top of him.

By Danielle Nuttall

A LEADING huntsman who broke his back in an horrific horse riding accident spoke last night of his miraculous escape from more serious injuries.

James Buckle, 39, joint master of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds, was cantering across a field during a hunt when his horse caught its front feet in a hole and somersaulted before landing on top of him.

The farmer, from Semer, near Hadleigh, was airlifted to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds with suspected serious injuries and was later transferred to Ipswich Hospital.


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He broke the middle of his back in two places but incredibly retained full movement of his limbs and will make a full recovery.

Speaking from his bed last night at the Suffolk Nuffield Hospital, in Ipswich, where he is continuing to recover, Mr Buckle said: “It's absolutely phenomenal. The moment I knew I could move my toes was just brilliant.

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“The doctors have said I was very lucky. I have full movement and no pain, which is amazing.

“I have broken my back but I can move everything and it's good given the circumstances. There should be an absolute 100% recovery.”

The accident happened on a field near Ash Street, Semer.

“I was just cantering along on my horse when both its front legs went down a hole and it somersaulted in the middle of a field and I cushioned the horse's fall,” said Mr Buckle.

“I was conscious. I've broken T7 and T8, which is the middle of the back where my ribs are. I'm in no pain at all. I'm flat on my back but very comfortable.

“I got airlifted to West Suffolk Hospital which was amazing service. Then I got transferred to Ipswich late on Tuesday.”

Mr Buckle said doctors decided not to operate and instead said he would need to remain lying on his back in hospital for six weeks. After this time, a plaster cast is likely to be fitted and then he will continue to receive care and physiotherapy.

“It could be a long time. I'm absolutely going back on a horse. I cannot live without that,” he added.

Mark Westwood, joint master of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds, said Mr Buckle had been “incredibly lucky”.

Earlier this year, a rider was killed at the famous Burghley Horse Trials in a similar accident.

Caroline Pratt, 42, of Middlewich, Cheshire, was fatally injured when her horse Primitive Streak fell on her at a fence. She was one of Britain's top riders.

Superman actor Christopher Reeve suffered one of the most severe spinal injuries possible when he was thrown from his horse, breaking his neck, during an equestrian competition in May 1995.

The actor, who was paralysed, died last month at the age of 52 after developing a serious bloodstream infection.

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