Karen O’Connor is recovering well following her surgery on Oct. 18 to stabilize a vertebra.
O’Connor sustained a burst fracture of the T4 vertebra and a compression fracture of the T5 vertebra in a fall from Veronica at the Morven Park Horse Trials in Leesburg, Va., on Oct. 6.
She first opted for a turtle shell-type brace, but she ended up needing surgery. O’Connor learned she was healing well after new X-rays were taken during a Dec. 3 doctor’s appointment. “They won’t talk to me about riding yet,” she said. “I go back in mid-January for my 90-day. They think at 90 days I should be able to start riding.”
She’s still wearing a body cast during the day, but she’s become much more mobile, even driving. “Being in any one position for any length of time makes me weary. Sitting, lying down or walking for a long time makes me weary, so you just change it up,” said O'Connor.
O’Connor has been going to a physical therapist three times a week and has started doing core strength exercises, but she admits she’s lost a lot of muscle mass.
While her horses are in work, she’s unsure when she’ll start competing again. She’s taken up residence at the winter home of the O’Connor Event Team in Ocala, Fla., and hopes to spend time in Wellington, Fla., working on her show jumping once she returns to riding.