A top jockey has recalled urging doctors to 'chop his leg off' after it 'exploded' from being kicked by a horse following a routine fall.
New Zealander Michael Walker was taking part in a race meeting at Pakenham in Australia last May when he suffered the horrific injury.
Walker says he was involved in the "easiest fall of my life" and landed safely, before the horse he was riding kicked the back of his calf, breaking his leg in the process.
The 37-year-old has now told of the excruciating pain, surgery and rehabilitation he has had to endure to recover, but still faces another operation on the horizon.
"I remember I was up in the air, about to come down on the ground, and I thought, 'I've never fallen on a synthetic [track], I wonder what it will feel like'," he told racing.com.
"My feet planted on the ground, but then the horse's back leg came through and kicked me in the calf.
"That's what did the damage. It made everything inside my calf explode."
Walker was taken immediately to hospital as medics rushed to tend to his broken leg, but they encountered an even bigger problem.
He had begun to develop compartment syndrome which restricts bloodflow and in the most severe cases can lead to amputation – an outcome Walker was ready to live with just to ease the pain he was in.
"It's like a balloon, when you put air in it it keeps expanding. It's the same with a leg… but your leg's not going to pop.
"I was telling doctors, 'just chop my leg off'. That's how much pain I was in. I was prepared to lose a leg."
Instead, Walker went under the knife as surgeons cut open his leg to alleviate the pressure, before using 58 stitches to patch him up again later.
"Doctors made 15cm incisions on each side of my leg," he said.
"They cut open each side to release the pressure. They actually stapled my skin back to my leg to keep the skin down. You can see the little steel staples around the edge.
"The black stuff, that's inside my leg, that's all blood. That's all the pressure that was built up inside."
Walker – who has won 25 Group 1 races in his distinguished career – eventually had three operations in five days, but must now undergo surgery again next month to reconstruct his anterior cruciate ligament.
Despite what has been a painful and harrowing ordeal, he remains incredibly upbeat about his chances of getting back on the track again in the near future.
"It is what it is, if I’ve got to get it done, I’ve got to get it done, I want to give myself the best chance of riding again."
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