Jonty Evans sits in the saddle again as he continues recovery from brain injury
Irish Olympic eventer Jonty Evans has spoken of his joy at getting back on a horse six months after suffering a serious brain injury at a competition.
Evans, 47, was in a coma for six weeks after a fall at the Tattersalls International Horse Trials in Ireland.
Doctors told his family to prepare for the worst but he has learned to talk and walk again as well as sitting in the saddle once more.
"It's a great feeling," the Gloucester-based rider told BBC Points West.
"Being on that horse was probably easier than walking. I have every intention of trying to ride."
Evans, who competed for Ireland at the 2016 Rio Olympics, acknowledges that he is highly unlikely to ride competitively again but is thrilled he has been able to get back into the saddle.
"Things are probably going to change. Not being able to do what I did to the level that I did and accepting that life going forward is going to look different."
Evans to spend Christmas at home with family
Evans spent 11 weeks at two hospitals in Ireland before travelling home to England to continue his recovery at a neurological unit.
Now almost exactly six months after his serious fall in county Meath, Evans is looking forward to spending Christmas at home with his family.
"I'm OK. I'm really well actually. Having a really positive mindset behind me has made a huge difference.
"My children have been absolutely amazing. Mia is 15. Never ever once did it seem to enter her mind that I wouldn't wake up."
Physio Gavin Egan describes Jonty's improvement over the last couple of months as "massive".
"He's walking a lot better. He's a lot more confident. His movement is a lot better. His day-to-day general function has improved massively."
Language and speech therapy
Another part of the eventer's recovery has been access to a language and speech therapist.
"There has been some impact to his facial expressions so those are the things we've been working on, raising his awareness of this by videoing him and then he can purposely change it," said therapist Emily Kirsop-Taylor.
Evans himself describes the process he has been undergoing as akin to a toddler's learning.
"They're learning what their brains can cope with. I know how to do something but I can't do it quick enough."
His return to the saddle was first on a simulator at Hartpury College in Gloucester before he got on to a real horse at a stable near his home.