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Fred Scala returns with a win after 16 weeks off injured

  • Event rider Fred Scala won at his first competition back last week, after 16 weeks off riding while he recovered from breaking multiple bones in a fall.

    Irishman Fred, who is based in Cornwall, was showjumping on 10 December 2021 when the accident happened.

    “I’d just got up on a young horse and he put his head between his knees and went plunging off – a proper rodeo job,” he said.

    “He bucked round the front of the lorry, nearly vanished into the undergrowth, plunged toward a 10ft bank in front of the lorry, turned right, then bounced off the front of the lorry and went plunging off across the car park.

    “I was thinking I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay on when the decision was taken away from me – he went stage right and spat me out on the hard core. I landed like a wet tea bag on my shoulder and head.”

    Fred has been working with horses since he was 16 and said this was the first time he had had a fall he could not walk away from.

    “I thought I’d broken my back,” he said. “I knew I could move my toes and fingers, but I thought if I tried to move at all, things would maybe go the wrong way, so I lay there like a pancake and waited for the ambulance to scoop me up off the floor.

    “I was relieved when they did a CAT scan and found it was broken ribs rather than back. I broke five ribs down my back, some of them down the front as well, smashed my collarbone to bits, punctured my lungs and was badly concussed.”

    Fred’s horses all went out on holiday and in the early part of 2022, May Miller started getting them fit before Fred could ride.

    “She’s been fantastic – she really stepped up and managed things while I was out and I was lucky to have her,” he said. “She has everything it will take to be a top young professional.”

    Meanwhile Fred was trying to get himself fit and build up his upper body strength.

    “I’d get up at 5am to get out for a run, but trying to run with broken ribs and a broken collarbone was quite pathetic – it was the weirdest jog you’ve ever seen, but I still did it,” he said. “I felt like I had the upper body strength of a slug, I’d just turned to mush on one side.”

    Fred Scala also had some remote help from the Irish team physiotherapist.

    “And I made up as many exercises as I could with a resistance band, that I could do with a broken collarbone and ribs,” he added. “I found squats were the thing I was best able to do without recoiling in pain.”

    Fred rode at his first event, Howick, around six weeks after starting riding again and was delighted to finish first in a BE100 on a new ride, Joanna Linton’s Croft BK, as well as second in a novice on his own Corribeg Supernova.

    Fred was shortlisted for the Irish Olympic team last year with Everon Vivendi and selected for the Europeans, but had to withdraw from the squad when the horse picked up a small injury. Everon Vivendi has just started walk work again.

    He explained: “I had such a sweet run with him and it was hard with us both being injured, to see everyone else coming out at the start of the season. You hope you’ll know what you’re doing when you come back. So it was nice to have good results and know our systems are working and the horses are hitting their targets.”

    Fred Scala has a small set-up in Cornwall with just seven horses in work and he is hoping he can interest some more owners and investors in joining his team.

    “I bought Everon Vivendi out of the monthly Goresbridge Sales as a five-year-old for €3,500 and he got me shortlisted for the Olympics,” he said.

    “I do everything I can to earn money to event – teach, buy and sell, have a transport business – and it’s only getting more expensive. I want to try to get to the Paris or Los Angeles Olympics. My teeth and claws are sharp, I just need horse power.”

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