Thrown trainer toughs it out
When Foxton horse trainer Grant Laursen saw the ground approaching and heard cracks in his back he knew he probably wasn't going to be riding horses for a while.
Mr Laursen is in a Christchurch hospital with a broken back after a horse drove him head-first into the turf about 7.30am on Saturday.
The trainer of 30 years was riding a "roughie" around Foxton Racecourse, galloping beside the running rail, when the wind flicked up some hay left on the track after recent ploughing and blew it into the horse's eyes.
The spooked horse somersaulted over the rail and Mr Laursen, 61, went with it. As he fell into the ground, helmet-first, he heard cracks, and the hours of agony began.
"I knew it straight away, really. It was not a nice feeling because I was conscious the whole time."
He was treated by St John paramedics at the scene before being taken to Palmerston North Hospital in the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter in a serious condition.
He was then flown overnight to Burwood Hospital's spinal unit, where he spoke to the Manawatu Standard from his hospital bed yesterday.
His injuries include three broken vertebrae and a severely bruised spinal cord. "The long-term prognosis seems all right, but they are not giving me any guarantees.
"I didn't have any feeling in my arms at first but I can now move them. I've still got paralysis in the lower part of my body.
"No-one has told me I won't be able to walk again but if that is the reality I will deal with it. I'm a bit of a fighter and as long as I'm not in the ground I will fight this."
Mr Laursen has had a run of bad luck. Serial arsonist Kelvin Webb burnt a block of his stables to the ground in November 2011.
He remains positive about the possibility of riding again and reckons he can give it a good shot with support from the Foxton community.
"They're probably going to be doing a few coin trails or something like that for me. Just as long as it's the gold ones and not those bloody bronze things."
His daughters, Anoushka Pivac from Palmerston North and Natasha Constable from Hawke's Bay, flew to Christchurch early yesterday morning. Mrs Pivac described her father as a "stubborn toughie".
"He is going to give this one a good crack and come back. He's a pretty determined sort of a guy."
Mr Laursen's most notable winners have included The Red Express, Waihora's Lass and Hawke's Bay Cup winner Tawbeau.