Andrew Nicholson: I'm lucky not have been paralyzed

    Andrew Nicholson is recovering after an eight-hour operation on serious injuries suffered at  the Festival of British Eventing.

    Story highlights

    • Nicholson, 54, one of eventing's most successful riders
    • He suffered injuries at cross-country event
    • Surgeons at Oxford operated on him for eight hours

    (CNN)New Zealander Andrew Nicholson says he is "incredibly lucky" not to have been paralyzed after suffering neck injuries in a fall at the Festival of British Eventing.

    Nicholson, 54, was rushed to hospital after the accident, which happened at the final fence of a cross-country event in Gloucestershire 11 days ago.
      His horse, Cillnabradden Evo, was unhurt.
      Nicholson, one of eventing's most successful ever riders, underwent an eight-hour operation at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
      The New Zealander told reporters on Thursday: "My surgeon, Mr Jeremy Reynolds, told me the injury I sustained to my neck would have caused paralysis at the time of injury in 98% of cases.
      "I realize I have been incredibly lucky. I underwent an eight-hour operation where they repaired the fractures and stabilized my cervical spine.
      "This procedure in itself was not without risk, and I cannot thank the team of spinal surgeons enough for what they have done."
      He said he did not know when he would be able to make a return to competition, and added: "While I have to take things easy, I am up and about and fully mobile and I look forward to getting back to full fitness in due course.