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One Stroppy Jockey

The Christine Lawn Story; with Sandy McKay; Longacre Press. Paperback, 192pp. RRP $34.99. ISBN 978-1-877361-80-7.

November 23, 2007

Luck - both good and bad - seems to come in degrees, especially in the racing game. The industry is also very unforgiving, and incredibly unfair for many. So it was incredibly bad luck that South Island jockey Christine Lawn ended up in hospital with apparently little hope of walking again after a raceday fall in February 2002. But good luck was with her in that she survived the fall - many other riders have not been so lucky.

The irony of the accident is that Lawn had really started to commit herself to being a jockey, after a some false starts and changes of mind.

The fall came near the end of a roughly run race, with her horse, Old Bas, drifting in, and another drifting out, and yet another drifting in and both of these hitting her horse. Old Bas didn't fall but Christine did, and was whacked in the back by her horse's foot in the process.

Later that day she was in Christchurch's Burwood spinal unit, and so began the long journey to rehabilitation.

A keen horsey kid from way back, Christine Lawn was first inspired to ride in races after reading about Linda Jones. She started out as an apprentice and had her first race ride in 1991, but called it quits soon after. She says in the book that back then she preferred track-work and food to race riding and starvation. But eventually she found her way back and at the time of her fall was back with a vengeance.

In Burwood hospital doctors didn't give Christine a very good chance of walking again, but her determined attitude has seen her defy the odds since then and make progress towards walking. Apparently telling her she something is impossible is an excellent way to make sure that it will indeed happen. Her attitude held her in good stead throughout her time at Burwood, and she made speedy progress towards her goal of walking again.

Few if us can comprehend what life as a paraplegic and in a wheelchair is like. Day-to-day life is not a doddle - basic functions - bodily and otherwise - that us able-bodied folks take for granted can be uncomfortable - if not painful - time consuming, and just plain tricky. But one learns and one copes - needs must.

To Christine part of her rehabilitation - to the horror of many - was riding again, which she did. And at the time the book was published, Christine was zooming around on a four-wheeler, walking with callipers and walking with the help of a frame, and taking care of her young son. And let's not forget the horses: Christine is riding again and has already been in a few dressage competitions. The para-equestrian movement is becoming increasingly popular around the world. When Christine Lawn is ready to take on the world, watch out!



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