Kristy's back in the saddle after horse racing accident
TEN months after breaking her back in a horse racing accident, Toowoomba rider Kristy Banks will return to sport in the open barrel race at the Warwick Rodeo this weekend.
Ms Banks has a close association with the Rose City - her father Graham went to school in Warwick and is now a horse trainer at Oakey.
Her uncle and aunt Neil and June Banks also live in the town.
She was in Warwick on Tuesday night at a presentation to six competitors who are being sponsored by Supa IGA Warwick in the annual rodeo this weekend.
Ms Banks was a jockey for 16 years and won 10 listed races in Brisbane and rode in the Magic Millions before being injured at Clifford Park, Toowoomba, on New Year's Eve.
She was the inaugural junior barrel race winner at the Warwick Rodeo in 1995 before the sport took a back seat to racing for the next 17 years.
As she is a paraplegic and has no feeling in her legs, a saddle has been adapted with seat belts for her to compete in barrel racing.
Husband Dale Groves said leg straps had also been added to the saddle to hold his wife's legs while competing.
Soon after her accident, Ms Banks realised she could either stop or get out there and do things.
"I saw a girl (in the same situation) riding in America and talked to her on Facebook," she said.
"I didn't think dressage was for me so am going to compete in barrel racing."
She has no intention of her Warwick Rodeo appearance being a one-off; she plans more rodeo appearances.
Ms Banks has been inspired by the support she has received since her accident, including the backing for a fundraising rodeo in Toowoomba to help her.
After spending $15,000 on a suitable horse for her return to sport, Sky Racing gave her a cheque for the full cost.
"Bob is a five-year-old gelding and a pretty good horse, I am not as good as he is yet," Ms Banks said.
Twice a week, she trains on the horse and had a run at Rosewood in a National Barrel Racing Association event.
"We went all right," she said.
As for her performance this weekend, Ms Banks has no expectation of a place; she just wants to complete the course.
Husband Dale Groves, 33, is a regular in the open bull ride at Warwick and is back from a foot injury sustained in track work.
"The candle (as a bull rider) is still burning," Mr Groves said.