Romain Clavreul remembers the day a horse hit him so hard he was knocked out for two days. In truth, he remembers everything up to the moment when his head felt the brute force of an equine skull travelling at racing velocity.
“I broke all of my teeth – the top, they’re all fake,” he says, running a finger above his top lip.
“I jumped the fence, fell and I was ok. I stood up and the horse from behind hit me – the horse’s face hit me in my face. I broke both of my collar bones and my ribs, my ankle. It took me eight or nine months to recover.”
That head-butt from a descending thoroughbred came during a hurdle race at Cagnes-Sur-Mer on 21 December, 2012 when Clavreul was living out his boyhood dream. It could have ended his work with horses for good.
“I just remember waking up and I had no teeth, I had 69 stitches in my mouth and they stitched my lip because they didn’t want me to open my mouth. I was three weeks with no teeth so I was eating with a straw – I lost 11 kilos. It was a tough time,” he recalls.
“When that happened my family said ‘no more, you have to stop everything’ and I said ‘no, that’s not going to happen.’ I understand why my family didn’t want me to ride again. My mum was crying more than I was – it wasn’t a good time.”
But it was not the end. The horror collision set him instead on a path that has taken him to Hong Kong and the finest thoroughbred he has had the privilege to ride – Beauty Generation.
Bonding with Beauty