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."