Shane Rose
Triple Olympic medallist Shane Rose is chasing a fourth Games after a fall likened to a car crash. Image by Libby Law/AAP PHOTOS
  • equestrian

Equestrian ace overcomes 18 fractures to chase Olympics

Melissa Woods June 7, 2024

In a wheelchair six weeks ago after suffering 18 fractures in a horror fall from his horse, triple OIympic medallist Shane Rose is looking to shore up selection for Paris on his return to competition.

The 51-year-old, who has collected two silvers and a bronze in team eventing at the Games, will compete in the Melbourne International 3-Day Event this weekend with a rod in his femur.

With his horse rolling on him in the training fall in March Rose suffered fractures to his leg, elbow, pelvis and ribs, with doctors likening the injuries to those inflicted in a serious car accident.

When he was finally given the green light to walk, Rose spent a month at the Australian Institute of Sport working to fast-track his return to the saddle.

Having previously overcome thyroid cancer and a facial reconstruction which involved being placed in a coma, Rose was confident his latest injuries wouldn’t wreck his hopes of competing at a fourth Olympics.

He missed out on the Atlanta and London Games after his horse suffered injuries.

“I was always confident that I had enough time – I’m a pretty optimistic person, but most people didn’t share my enthusiasm,” Rose told AAP.

“When it first happened, I didn’t realise the significance of the injuries. 

“I just saw the timeline and thought, ‘That’s plenty of time to fix the bones and then I’m away’.

“But the reality is that the pelvic fractures were significantly more substantial than I thought, and it was six weeks before I could get up and about.

“Fortunately, I haven’t had any setbacks and everything sort of progressed as planned, if not a couple of weeks in front of schedule, which is good.”

Rose, who made global headlines when he sported an orange Borat-style ‘mankini’ costume during a riding event in February, will compete in the dressage and showjumping this weekend but not the cross-country leg.

“In the dressage position, I’ve been really comfortable from the moment I’ve got back on,” the father of four said.  

“Whereas in the jumping position, it’s taken me a bit longer to get physically strong enough, but also the balance and flexibility that I need.

“Within a couple of weeks, I’ll hopefully be back to 100 per cent.”

Places in Australia’s three-rider equestrian team are hotly contested, with eight-time Olympian Andrew Hoy among those up for selection, as well as new face Shenae Lowings. 

The team will be announced on July 1. 

Rose felt his results on board 18-year-old gelding Virgil over the past few years would be enough to secure a place, but he remains keen to prove to selectors he has overcome his injuries.

“I’m sure selectors will feel more comfortable if they see me out competing after my injuries, so it’s partially to satisfy their concerns,” the NSW rider said.

“But this was always flagged as part of my preparation for Paris.

“I’m sure selectors will be comfortable if I go out and do a good job.”