Tuesday Video from Horseware: Catching Up with Paul Tapner

Click the image to watch the interview.

It’s been two months since Australian five-star rider Paul Tapner suffered a brain bleed after a fall from his top horse, Bonza King of Rouges, during a routine hack. The weeks that ensued were tumultuous for Paul and his family, but we’re pleased to report that Paul is doing well in his recovery. Horse & Country TV’s Jenny Rudall sat down for an interview with Paul and Georgina Tapner, who talk at length about the accident and its aftermath.

Paul had ventured out on the property in Wickstead, United Kingdom for an evening hack aboard “King” with his dog, Digger, at his side. But when King and Digger returned to the gate without him, Georgina and the couple’s 16 year old son, Josh, started the frantic search for the lost rider. Thanks to the Find My iPhone technology, Josh was able to locate Paul on the 500 acres and found him, incoherent and in pain, on the ground. Paul was subsequently airlifted to the hospital, where a small brain bleed was discovered.

Initially, the medical team told Georgina that the bleed would self-resolve and result in a concussion, and that her husband would likely be home in a few days. That wasn’t to be the case, as she received a call later that night informing her that a second brain bleed, indicative of a stroke sustained as a result of the initial trauma, had been found. The weeks that followed were full of ups and downs, most of which Paul has no memory of now.

Paul Tapner and Bonza King of Rouges. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Both Paul and Georgina say they’re grateful for the protection of the helmet Paul was wearing, which helped prevent his skull from fracturing in the fall, as well as the technology that allowed them to locate and navigate to the site of the accident.

As for what’s next? Paul had previously stepped away from heavy competition but had still been competing his top horse, Bonza King of Rouges, a 17 year old Irish Sport Horse gelding. Now, Paul says he doesn’t have many plans to return to competition. At some point, he says in the interview, it’s time to give one’s body a rest. Older riders, he notes, often feel a pressure to continue competing well into their 50s and 60s. “Since I was in my teens, I’ve been throwing myself from a horse, voluntary or involuntary,” he said. Now, he’s turned from a student of the sport to a student of proper physical recovery, embracing the help provided by physical therapists and other medical experts tasked with helping his body recover.

We’re relieved that Paul is doing well and as always encourage riders to wear properly fitted and certified safety gear – even when out on a hack with your best horse. Accidents can and do happen, and we’re thankful that Paul’s seen the other side of this one.

Go eventing.