The following article was published by Carl Evans on the National Website.
Readers will be interested to know that Charlie finished 3rd on Shanoule Wood in the South Dorset Members during today’s meeting at Milbourne St Andrew.
Great to see you back Charlie!
Charlie Dando is set for a return to the ranks of point-to-point riders this weekend, just over a year after he suffered a horrific shotgun blast injury.
The lower half of one leg was smashed when Dando now 26, went to take a 4-10 shotgun from a friend who was acting as loader during a pheasant shoot. Rushed to hospital, his heart stopped on the operating table as doctors fought to save the limb, but through grim determination he has defied the odds and could ride in the South Dorset Hunt Race at Milborne St Andrew on Sunday.
A farrier by trade, Dando, who has ridden 21 point-to-point winners, says: “The doctors didn’t tell me, but they informed my mum that my heart stopped twice while I was in theatre.
“I needed an artery graft, because the blast severed the arteries below the knee, the following day I had a nerve graft and then it was a skin graft.
“When I eventually got out of hospital I threw away my crutches and set about trying to walk in a straight line in the kitchen, holding the table and wall for support.”
Dando, a familiar face in the Duke of Beaufort Hunt field – he acts as amateur whip – was given an incentive to get back into the saddle by a friend who offered him a horse to undertake the role of catcher at the Badminton Horse Trials. With that objective completed he prepared for a return to race riding, and with girlfriend Brooke Gardener-Wollen set about getting a couple of pointers fit for the current season.
He says: “Oaksey House in Lambourn [run by the Injured Jockeys’ Fund and a leader in rehabilitation] was a big help in getting me back to fitness. The staff there got me doing exercises and lifting weights in the gym to get the leg stronger. The skin on the inside of my leg is tight and can get sore, but I ride with a pad inside my boot and that seems to do the trick.
“I’ve been looking forward to riding in points again because it’s such a great buzz and I can’t wait to ride Shanoule Wood for Hannah Clarke at Milborne”