Update on Karen O’Connor and Veronica after their fall at Morven

I have just spoken to Karen O’Connor and Max Corcoran, and I’m pleased to be able to report that both Karen and Veronica will be fine, Karen after some recovery.  After a rotational fall at fence 13, a bounce,  in the Advanced Championship Division at Morven Park yesterday, Karen was taken to the Lansdowne Hospital where she had a CAT scan, and was then transported to the Fairfax Trauma Center. Karen has a burst T4 fracture and a compression fracture of the T5 vertebrae.  Neurologically she is absolutely perfect, and she can feel and move all of her body parts.

Veronica is “sore, but 100% fine, she just has a few cuts and scrapes and is hanging out in her field.”  Karen has had an MRI this morning which was all good, and now she awaits a custom-made body brace which will extend from her neck down to cover her pelvis, and which she will wear for about two months.  The doctors decided that because the vertebrae is burst and not collapsed they can take the non-surgical route. Once she has been fitted with the brace, hopefully in three or four days, she will be allowed home, but she warned me, “you might not see too much of me for the first 30 days or so because I’m supposed to stay pretty horizontal.”

Professional and tough as nails, we chatted briefly – Karen from her hospital bed while the doctor checked her vital signs.  Mostly, she wanted to make sure and thank everyone for the overwhelming outpouring of support she’s received, “All the well wishes and tremendous support really means a lot to me. ” and of course she’s already annoyed that she won’t get to finish a great season on Mandiba especially as well as the rest of her team. Mandiba had given her “a foot perfect round” earlier in the day, and was due to show-jump for those same Advanced Championship honours with a fifteen point advantage.  Despite suffering a very minor concussion, Karen has incredible recall; she remembers having a great round up until the fall, galloping down to Fence 13, “quite a small bounce in the gulley, and I met it on a bit of a long one so I was aware of concentrating all our effort on jumping the 2nd rail. Veronica landed with her feet in front of her but her hindquarters were already rotating.” Karen suffered a direct blow in between her shoulder blades, either from Veronica’s knee or front foot, she says she won’t know for sure until she watches the video, but that she is convinced her Point Two Air Vest saved her from even further trauma.

Karen’s scans for the medically inclined

Both Karen and Max are shocked and scared, but grateful for all the support, and relieved the outcome wasn’t any worse; as Max said, “We’re just very lucky to have her here in one piece.”  Karen actually told me she feels great now, as of Sunday afternoon, after a positive MRI, but that it was definitely a scary feeling, “Right after the fall I had tingling and numbness in both my arms which was very frightening, but luckily that went away and I was pretty scared after hearing the results of the first scan”, and again, she stressed that without an airvest she is sure if she would not have been so lucky.  Karen’s husband David landed in Holland this morning to help Nations Cup team at Boekelo, but got straight back on the next plane home to be at Karen’s side.  However he intends to make it back to The Netherlands by Wednesday.  Max will continue to post updates on the O’Connor Eventing Team website and on Karen’s facebook page, and we’ll bring you more news later in the week, but once again Karen wanted me to make sure I thank everyone on her behalf, especially Sue Clarke who helped get the horses home, and to Marilyn Little- Meredith for staying the night.  Get Well soon, Karen and Veronica, we wish you both a speedy EN recovery, and all our best wishes to the entire team. Go Eventing.

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