Ballarat horse trainer Mark Lewis is counting down the days to next racing season.
He believes that is how long – more than six months – it will be before he can once again fulfill all the roles required to run his stable.
Lewis has been unable to carry out the hands-on tasks of a trainer since suffering a series foot injury in July.
The 44-year-old has spent all his adult life around horses and he has had to deal with rearing horses countless times without incident.
This time the outcome was much different though. As a horse came down it stood on Lewis’ left foot. At the same he twisted himself to the side in an attempt to avoid contact.
With the foot planted firmly under a hoof, the result was a snapped Lisfranc – six fractures across the top of the midfoot.
Lewis said he was not too concerned initially and even x-rays did not reveal the extent of the injury, although it was clear he would need surgery.
He said all soon became clearer, when three plates and more 20 screws were inserted.
The first phase of a long road to recovery was nine weeks in bed with the foot in plaster. He then progressed to a moon boot and crutches – enough to give him some mobility again.
Lewis said he was now wearing a charcot restraint orthotic walker. Known as a CROW boot, it keeps the foot rigid.
He said while he still had to keep off the foot as much as possible, he was aiming to be up and about unaided mid-April before embarking on a rehabilitation process.
Lewis said it had been frustrating time, having to trim back the number of horses in work to two, with his father and right-hand man Bill the mainstay in keeping the stable ticking over. Family and friends have also provided enormous support.
He said there had been no option but to cut right back, with some horses being moved on and numerous young ones sent to the spelling paddock.
Lewis said as tough as it had been, he was extremely optimistic about the future with a strong band of yearlings and two-year-olds ready to get into work. “I can’t wait to get back into it.”
Lewis has a 42-box barn, which is regularly used by other trainers – many who make use of a water-walker at the complex – and once back in full swing hopes to build up to 15-20 in work.
MARK Lewis has only had three starters since he was injured.
The Card Players has been to the races twice for a last-start win at Geelong on Boxing Day, and Chosen Dream once. They each go around again at Geelong on Thursday.