Foxton racehorse trainer Grant Laursen has set himself a goal for 2014 - and it's nothing to do with winning races.
Instead, the 61-year-old is looking forward to walking out of the Burwood Hospital spinal unit in Christchurch, where he has been since a "spooked" horse drove him head-first into the turf during an early morning training session at the Foxton racecourse in November.
He broke vertebrae in his back and his spinal cord was severely bruised when the 3-year-old filly clipped the top of the running rail, and somersaulted into him.
"I've been told I could be out of here in April," he said recently. "I've been told by my doctor I could walk out. That is what I am aiming for. My main goal is to walk out but if I have to leave in a wheelchair I'll take that as well.
"I'm telling everybody here I'm getting back in the bloody saddle."
He realised there could be no guarantees with serious back injuries. "I've told the people looking after me to make sure my new electric wheelchair is a wide-ranging one, just in case I don't walk out."
He spent Christmas at the spinal unit with his grandchildren and daughters Anoushka Pivac, of Palmerston North, and Natasha Constable, of Hawke's Bay.
He undergoes an average two hours daily physiotherapy in an endeavour to "get things moving", such as his arms, shoulders and fingers.
"I was pretty lucky really and I have just had so much support from everybody down here."
The one-time Horowhenua rugby winger had received visits from old mates at Foxton Rugby Club.
"It's been great to see them," Mr Laursen said.
Partner Charlotte Millar has been taking care of the 12 horses in training back in Foxton. The couple had a big boost when Wiggle, a horse he trains and part-owns, won a $25,000 race at Trentham on December 7.
"Charlotte's doing a great job taking care of business," said Mr Laursen, who has been training racehorses for about 30 years.
He has spent most of his racing career at Foxton, apart from apprentice work in Woodville in 1967 and a year's change of scene near Perth in 2008.
Wiggle apart, Mr Laursen's notable winners include The Red Express, Waihora's Lass and Hawke's Bay Cup winner Tawbeau.
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