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John Kissick smashed up, broken back, bed-ridden for a year - vows to mend and return

Ric Chapman in Interviews 17 Nov 2016
  • John Kissick broken but determined to bounce backk
Bull riding is, as you can see, very dangerous

Are jockey's crazier than regular athletes?

We know they are tougher than most, stronger - pound-for-pound than nearly all - and fearless beyond what they or humanity should be.

But are they crazier?

Well, John Kissick, the champion jockey for the past two years in the Southern Districts sector of NSW, might just be.

Currently, as you read this, he's at his parent's home in Griffith, NSW, flat on his back, resting.

He's not riding these days because he has about a million stitches in his back, as well as a rod and screws precariously holding his spine together, and a doctor's order to rest for 12 months.


Well he had a fall - not from a horse as you might suspect, but from a hulking bull.

Last month, on a rare day off from race riding, in company with a few mates, he went steer riding, which is considered the most dangerous sport in the world, and he sat on the back of this 1400m kilo beast hoping to get the requisite 8-second count.

Now, to be fair, he'd done this kind of thing before, but this bloke he rode this day, well he was something straight from hell.

These bovine athletes are menacing. 

They are all high-kicking, fast-spinning animals that change direction on a dime with whiplashlike intensity. It requires incredible strength and balance just to stay on board.

Such is the power of these animals, they make this already dangerous sport even more thrilling for spectators. 

Over the past 20 years the quality of bulls in the world have improved immeasurably through selective breeding. Rodeo promoters nearly always have the steer-riding contests at the end of the show because they are the most popular.

Danger with the very real possibily of death can do that to a sport.

 Stock contractors and breeders stand to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by fielding such high-caliber bucking bulls, which can be worth $250,000 each or more....dependent on how high they leap.

One bovine athlete in the U.S. named Bushwacker’s estimated value is just shy of $1 million.

Anyway, that's what Kissick was doing when after about 5 seconds on one of these Satanic creatures, he was thrown into the air.  When he fell to earth he landed on his head and neck, breaking his back.

Now, the talented hoop, who says he will ride again in races (maybe not on the back of steers) will spend the next 12 months on the sidelines first after fracturing his T-12 vertebrae in the accident which occurred in Braidwood last month.

Kissick successfully underwent surgery last week, where he had two screws and a rod inserted from his T10 through to his T12 vertebrae.

Imagine that. Not bending his back like riders do, for over 12 months. Arghhh, man it hurts just thinking about it.

“I knew straight away that I had broken my back,” he said. 
 “I felt it lock up. I could feel my hands and feet but that was about it. 
 “It was pretty frightening. I went straight into shock.”

Now, I write this story because it's a tragedy for an athlete I admire and like.

I've used John once on my mare, Jar Of Hearts.

He rode her perfectly that day, and although I am massively picky when it comes to riders, I would happily use him again as he rides extremely well.

So, like many in the racing industry, this story about a young man with an incredible future in the saddle, touches me.

To see such talent laid up, out of action for at least a year, makes you feel just that little bit saddened.

“I'm definitely lucky," he said. "It could have been a lot worse.” 
 “I might not have been able to ride again, or even walk again.”

Too true.

And his young body will eventually heal, hopefully enough to return to race riding. He's only 25 and in good health.

His spirit, unlike his body, is unbroken and his will to ride again is powerful.

Jocks get that way. man they are tough.

 It may not seem all that possible at the moment, but tragedy can and often does turn into triumph down the road.

Life in sport, particularly in horse racing is theatre made to be enjoyed by the masses, and I'll bet this young man will bounce back from this near crippling accident, and do something rather pectacular in the saddle.

I hope so.

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John Kissick smashed up, broken back, bed-ridden for a year - vows to mend and return

Top NSW jockey John Kissick will not ride for over a year - and maybe never again after this terrible accident

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