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Pavlo’s Story – Occupational Health

Pavlo aboard Ermyn’s Emerald

Epsom Downs provides an atmospheric, oasis of calm and tranquility on the outskirts of London. It is here that Pavlo, a work rider for Pat Phelan, rides out every morning and it is this way of life that allows him to thrive. Aboard his favourite horse, Ermyn’s Emerald, is where he is happiest.

The terrifying thought of this career and lifestyle being taken from him is something that almost became a reality when the doctor told him he may never ride again following two significant injuries. He describes this time as ‘frightening’ but Racing Welfare was there to help minimise his fear.

Through Racing’s Occupational Health Service, the charity funded treatment for Pavlo at Sir Peter O’Sullevan House along with regular physiotherapy and a swimming membership. Thanks to this support, Pavlo is back where he belongs – in the saddle. He says:

“I first contacted Racing Welfare two years ago when I had a bad fall and dislocated my shoulder. I started using a private physio which became too expensive. At that time, my welfare officer was visiting the yard and I found out Racing welfare could help me.

“At one point, it was too painful to ride. I never wanted to change this job but it looked like I might have to. I didn’t prepare myself for that and I began to panic. I wanted to ride horses, it was tricky that my shoulder was telling me I couldn’t.”

Off work for six weeks and faced with losing his career, Racing Welfare stepped in and were able to fund sessions for Pavlo with a sports physiotherapist and an acupuncturist in Epsom. This allowed Pavlo to thrive again:

Pavlo riding out on Epsom Downs

“I was starting to feel much better and the physio recommended swimming for my shoulder, Racing Welfare then provided me with a membership to the local swimming pool and within six months I was completely pain free. I was so happy to be back at work again.”

In June 2020 at the height of the pandemic, however, this happiness was once again blighted when Pavlo was kicked by a horse and smashed his knee in three places. This time, Racing Welfare sent Pavlo for treatment at Sir Peter O’Sullevan House in Newmarket:

“The kneecap was completely broken, this time I was off for six months. After a few months I was panicking and wondered if I would be working again. Katy, my welfare officer organised for me to go to Newmarket and that was the best thing for me.

“They were so professional, they deal every day with jockey injuries, they put me through rehabilitation and I was there five or six days – I was able to use the hydra-pool. The NHS doctor didn’t want me to go back riding but there was a completely different mindset in Newmarket. In six months I went back to work and in eight months I was riding. My knee is now perfect.

“When I came back from Newmarket, Racing Welfare funded my physiotherapy at home to build myself up. That was amazing. In lockdown I couldn’t go back to the swimming pool and the physio coming to see me at home meant I was back to work much faster.

“It has given me a huge amount of confidence knowing I have that support from Racing Welfare. I am so happy to be riding again. I couldn’t wait to get back on a horse. You feel you are stuck on your own through injury but Racing Welfare make you feel the opposite.”

If you are struggling with physical health issues, you can call our support line 24/7 on 0800 6300443 which is fully confidential.

You can visit our occupational health page for more information.