Chiacchia continues injury comeback with big win

March 27, 2009

A year after suffering a serious accident in a cross-country fall, US event rider Darren Chiacchia has won an advanced horse trials class in Florida.

Riding his veteran campaigner, the trakehner stallion Windfall II, Chiacchia won at the Rocking Horse Spring Horse Trials - a year after his fall from Baron Verdi at Florida's prestigious Red Hills Horse Trials. Chiacchia was unconscious or semi-conscious for 42 days, and the world watched his recovery over a period of several months. But he defied medical prognosis by riding well before it was expected. He was competing by the northern summer.

Chiacchia sustained a severe head injury, and contusions to both lungs with multiple rib fractures and a partially collapsed lung. As well as Windfall II, Chiacchia rode the advanced horses Better I Do It and Stoneybrook in the Florida event.

"I went out there and rode my horses and did not over-think it. The big side effect of my head injury is that I tend to over-think and to over-analyze things," Chiacchia told Horses Daily.

"If I was in a wheelchair or had a big old limp, people would be reminded that I have an injury. People can't see it when you have a brain injury. Just because I am riding does not mean that I am cured and that I am fixed. The reality is that I am still in recovery. With a brain injury, it is not like one day you are suddenly better. It is a long, slow process."