Racehorse Tomkevi embarks on a second career after being nursed back to health from a broken leg

A racehorse who broke his leg in training is embarking on a second career thanks to the care and dedication of his owners and trainer.

Joanna and Tom at a training event.

Tomkevi, known as Tom, has been nursed back to health by Joanna Oliver, whose husband Rob own the winning hurdler with Peter Howe.

A prolific winner with Stockton-on-Tees based trainer, Rebecca Menzies, Tom had ten career wins over hurdles and fences to his name and had earnt in excess of £100,000 when he suffered a potentially fatal broken leg cantering at home on the gallops.

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But thanks to the quick reactions of his rider and trainer, Tom’s fracture was soon stabilised giving him a fighting chance of recovery. “Tom was our first racehorse and had won seven times for us, people were saying ‘you just don’t get that lucky’. When he fractured his leg we just wanted to do our best to try and save him,” Joanna said.

Tom was sent to the world-leading Newmarket Equine Hospital where surgeons worked to piece his right cannon bone back together.

But it was a long road back to recovery and Joanna said: “We were very clear that if he was left in pain we would not put him through it and would make a very hard decision.

“The vet thought Tom should come sound again and he was put on four weeks’ box rest which extended into ten weeks and it took its toll.

“The x-rays were very positive but Tom’s physical and mental health was starting to suffer. He was getting colic and was depressed.”

Tom was still based with Rebecca who suggested creating a small turn-out paddock pen so Tom could spend time outside. Turnout proved the turning point and soon he was able to make the journey to his new home in North Yorkshire.

A lifelong rider, Joanna decided she wanted to give him the opportunity for a new career if he came sound and nine months after surgery Tom was ready to start work.

However, while he is the “sweetest horse” on the ground, Joanna said Tom’s ridden progress was “not entirely smooth”.

“We had a few involuntary dismounts and false starts.”

But determined to get it right, Joanna got in touch with the local Retraining of Racehorses co-ordinator and equine physio, Vicky Smart.

Vicky and her husband Bryan run a successful racing yard in Thirsk and she recommended six months strengthening groundwork to build up his muscle.

Joanna also decided when he was ready to be ridden again she would find a “younger, braver rider” to get Tom going again.

Enlisting the help of international event rider Pauliina ‘Polly’ Swindells, the pair have not looked back taking on their first one-day event this summer where they came seventh.

“We train regularly with Polly and Tom continues to learn how to be an event horse.

“He has had so much to deal with and there’s so much to look forward to in the years to come for the horse who almost didn’t make it.”