Life & Style | People

Kelly Webster: Back in the saddle

Crushed under the weight of two horses, professional rider Kelly Webster didn’t think she would ever have the confidence to ride again – until she found an unusual cure. She tells Friday about her experience

  • By Tara Cain
  • Published: 09:13 November 18, 2012
  • Friday

Kelly Webster
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • "Horses can sense fear and I knew I would be a danger to myself. But the thought of never working with horses or riding again made me determined to do something about it."
Image 1 of 2

When professional horse rider Kelly Webster was thrown from her horse in a freak riding accident, which nearly killed her, she thought she would never be able to climb back in the saddle again. Kelly, 34, who rides and trains horses in England, was crushed under two of the animals, and onlookers thought there was no way she would survive the terrible accident. Luckily, a body protector saved her from more serious injury – but her confidence was shattered.

Kelly, who has worked with horses for 14 years, says, “I have been around them since I was a teenager and have worked with them since the age of 20. But after that accident I honestly thought my career was over; the trauma was so great I just couldn’t face riding again. “The thought of getting back on a horse made me feel sick and anxious… I have ridden horses all my life and had many accidents and falls over the years, but this was something else. This was just too close for comfort.”

Kelly’s job entails exercising racehorses between events to keep up their fitness and she works out three or four horses every morning in her hometown of Newmarket. “On the morning of the accident two years ago, I was riding with another trainer along a main road in town. Racehorses have their own pavement, or ‘horse walk’, here and I was riding my horse behind my colleague.

“I looked over my shoulder and made out a ‘loose’ horse [a riderless horse] behind us. I remember not really thinking much about it as the horse was quite a way behind, but the next thing I knew, it crashed into the back of my horse at full speed and sent me flying. “I don’t recall much about what happened next, but from piecing it together afterwards, it seems my horse smashed into the back of my colleague’s mount and then I knocked heads with my horse as it threw its neck back and I fell unconscious. The loose horse and mine fell on me.

“When I woke up, I was face down on a muddy pavement with two horses scrambling madly to get up off me.” Kelly later discovered that the loose horse had smashed through a wooden fence and in doing so its saddle had slipped under its belly. This is something which, she said, can make a horse go crazy and out of control. “There were builders working opposite and they called the ambulance straight away,” Kelly recalls. “I had a couple of broken ribs and some bleeding. The only thing that saved me that day was my body protector, which is pretty much like a bullet-proof vest.

“I was really shaken up… I knew it was a freak accident and would probably never happen again, but still I couldn’t face getting back in the saddle.” In time, Kelly recovered from the physical injuries, but not the emotional effects. “Horses can sense fear and I knew I would be a danger to myself. But the thought of never working with horses or riding again made me determined to do something about it. I didn’t want this for myself. “Then a friend told me about hypnotherapist Russell Hemmings and suggested I give him a call.

Related Links

I was really sceptical at first. I wasn’t sure he could help me at all. But after the first session I felt great and completely relaxed. “I kept listening to the CD [which had soothing music and motivational talks] he’d given me and I remained hopeful. Then a couple of weeks later, after my second session, Russell suggested we go to the stables together to see how far I had come. “We went to the paddock and right there and then I knew my anxiety had reduced.

Of course, his being there was reassuring and he kept talking and motivating me and made sure I was always comfortable. And I realised that something really had changed in me; my confidence was back and I felt so much calmer. I just couldn’t believe it! “I do not know how he did it, but I no longer gave it a second thought. “All the anxiety and stress has gone; all the tension and thoughts about the accident. I just felt like I could cope once again and be back to my old self. “And, the best thing of all, it means I’m back doing the job that I love.”

How Kelly was cured

Clinical hypnotherapist Russell Hemmings says, “It is inevitable that some of us will experience stresses, strains and accidents at some time in our lives. For most of us, recovery will be a natural process which occurs over time, without the need for further help. But for others, certain traumatic and frightening events can trigger a reaction which can last for months, or even years.

Known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it manifests both physically and psychologically and is thought to occur in around 30 per cent of individuals who experience a traumatic event. “With hypnotherapy, we can use a combination of therapies to remove or reduce the negative thoughts and behaviours surrounding the event. Clients learn to reframe their experience in a way that will help them.

If we avoid situations or stimuli that frighten us, we can also develop a phobia, and Kelly had a combination of PTSD and her anxiety had developed into a phobia.” A number of other disorders can be treated using this approach including anxiety, depression, panic attacks, stress reduction and addictions.

Inside info

Russell will be visiting Dubai this month. You can contact him via his website or visit

The complete magazine

Lifestyle & Entertainment columnists
  • Russell Hemmings
    Life the Hemmings way

    Life coach Russell Hemmings on fears, anxieties and the human psyche demystified

  • Uma Ghosh Deshpande
    The Dubai Insider

    Uma Ghosh Deshpande guides you through the city’s society gatherings and inspiring stories

  • Bharat Thakur
    Yoga for you

    Bharat Thakur guides you through practices and wisdom of this ancient science of exercising

  • Gaby Doman
    Gaby Doman: Notes to myself

    The everyday ups and downs of being a modern woman, according to this globetrotter

  • Pratyush Sarup
    Design diary

    Dubai-based interior designer Pratyush Sarup lets us in on the world of design

Life & Style editor's choice

More from friday

More from alpha

More from Wheels

More from aquarius

More from insideout

Quick Links

  1. Business

  2. Sport

  3. The latest Entertainment news

  4. The latest Lifestyle stories

  5. Blogs

  6. Opinion

In Life

  1. Food

  2. Shopping

  3. Motoring

  4. Travel

  5. Gadgets

  6. Beauty & Fashion

  7. Interiors

  8. People

  9. Health

  10. Education

Latest in Life

  1. Uma Ghosh: Good night’s sleep is key to success

  2. An over-the-top wedding in Dubai?

  3. Bariatric surgery eases Type 2 diabetes symptoms

  4. What makes us smile

  5. She’s a French food superstar, now in Dubai

  6. Sizzling steaks that won’t burn your budget