On July 22, 2018, Victor Espinoza fractured a vertebra in his neck when the horse he was galloping, Bobby Abu Dhabi, had a heart attack and died. Two days ago, Espinoza returned to racing, finishing second on . I am speechless at his resiliency and determination. My own injuries are mostly better, but so far I haven’t felt ready to go hunting, let alone gallop a horse at 35 mph with a full field of competitors.
“It was great, it was a fun ride,” Espinoza said. “She ran great, and you can’t ask for much more. We got the first race out of the way and now we’ve got to go on and find the next champion. I wasn’t nervous, I was kind of excited (going to the starting gate), excited to know I came back and could continue my career.”
Espinoza first got on barely more than a month ago. To ride in a race so soon is an amazing recovery for someone injured so badly that he initially lacked feeling in his left arm and needed 24-hour help.
“It was quite an experience. I fell many times before but not like this time,” he said. “When I fell off [this time], I was conscious and good in my head. I was laying there and couldn’t feel my body. Then it clicked in my brain … and I wondered if I was ever going to walk again.”
About three months after the accident, he started feeling better. At first, he was allowed only to walk — so he walked around the neighborhood three times a day.
He breezed his first horse, St. Joe Bay, on January 5th. The horse was chosen by trainer John Sadler, because, “He’s a nice horse and he’s a nice, easy ride, so that’s why we put him on that one. I’m not going to put him on one who is going to pull too hard or is nutty.” Even then, the doctors had differing opinions about his ability to return to racing and for awhile he thought he’d be relegated to exercising horses.
Victor has my full respect and he’s spurred me on. By the time spring rolls around, I’ll be ready to hunt.
How long have you taken to recover from a major injury? Does Victor Espinoza inspire you?