Ana O'Brien, who is recuperating from a horrific fall at Killarney last month, continued on her road to recovery this week when visiting an old companion and family favourite, 21-year-old event horse Ice Cool Bailey.
The injured rider tweeted a picture on Wednesday evening of herself – wearing a neck brace – and the grey, who she and her siblings won medals aboard at the European Championships when representing Ireland. Her post, accompanied by the message "Nice to get out the house today to visit Bailey", has already attracted almost 3,000 responses.
O'Brien said: "He's the same age as me! He was great to all of us, taking us to the Europeans and winning medals, and it was lovely to get down to see him."
The leading apprentice, who was air-lifted to hospital after sustaining fractured vertebrae in her neck and back and also fractures to her cheekbones in the Killarney fall, expressed delight at the goodwill towards her, saying: "I couldn't believe the response and good wishes of people, it's been unbelievable. I'm absolutely over the moon with all the messages."
On her recovery, she added: "I'm not doing too badly now. Please God things can keep going in the right direction, and everyone reaching out means a huge amount.
"I've another while to go before we can think about the next step, but I'll keep going to check-ups and hopefully I can keep everyone happy with my progress. I'm watching a lot of racing or anything at all just to pass the time."
O'Brien had been riding to her highest ever standard before her injury, recording 22 of her 66 career successes this season, as well as riding in the Investec Derby and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.
She said: "I was very lucky and Dad [Aidan] gave me some great opportunities and I got on some lovely horses. It was great up until this point."