Back when I was a kid, every winter’s afternoon after school myself and a guy called Alan Fleming, who is now a trainer, would go out and feed the horses at the other end of my dad’s farm.
We’d ride ponies up carrying a bag of nuts and a bale of hay, feed the horses in the field, and then ride back. It was the quickest way to do it.
But on this particular day my mum and dad had gone south, so the head man in the yard sent me on my own. After riding up to the horses and the top of the farm and giving them their feed, I turned to come home.
We usually jumped on our way back, but it went a bit wrong this time.
I remember the first jump… the next memory I have was being in Naas hospital.
- Ruby Walsh: The racing memory which still sends shivers down my spine
- ‘Horses can’t be turned off like cars… they need fine turning for coronavirus lockdown’ – Ruby Walsh
I must have got up and caught the pony. I know I didn’t ride him back because my feet were wet, meaning I must have walked through the river on the way home.
I walked him into the yard, and the lads saw me coming in leading the pony, not having a clue where I was. My uncle-in-law, who lived next door, came and collected and put me in the car to take me off to Naas hospital.
Back in those days no-one had a mobile phone so my aunt rang a shop called Kinane’s in Cashel, and one of the women who worked in there knew my family and waited in the street until my parents went through and told them what had happened.
There were traffic lights in the middle of the town so cars used to crawl through, and when she spotted them she was able to grab their attention. As soon as heard they turned around and came straight home.
That’s how it was done in the old days!
I still don’t remember what happened that day, but obviously now there is a lot more awareness of concussion and the dangers of it.
- Ruby Walsh: The 10 horses I would have love to ridden in my career
- Horse Racing: Punter turns £4 into £164,141 to slot into PP Hall of Fame
- Paddy’s Guide to Sport that is actually happening