At 81-years old, local musterer Graham Dever still loves riding and working his dogs. But a simple job on a station at Waerenga-o-Kuri nearly cost him his life.
After a long day mustering Graham was just a quarter of a mile from the homestead when a cow charged from a nearby mob.
“She seemed to come from nowhere. The horse spooked and spun around, the saddle slipped and took me with it,” he said.
The horse darted down a steep gully with Graham holding on for dear life.
“I held on for as long as I could but eventually lost my grip and she shook me off at full gallop. I rolled about five metres and landed in the rushes.”
Graham’s injuries included five broken ribs and a damaged lung.
He lay in the gully for around half an hour until the alarm was raised by his 12-year-old grandson, Sam Williams.
“Sam drove past me at first and thought I was taking a nap in the shade. It wasn’t till he got back to the homestead and saw the horse at the gate with the slipped saddle that he realised I might be in trouble.”
Sam raised the alarm and the mustering gang went to his aid, calling emergency services. St John paramedics were first on the scene but quickly called for back-up from the ECT Rescue Helicopter and Fire Service.
The ECT Rescue Helicopter arrived on the scene within minutes.
The Fire Service soon followed to assist in lifting Graham from the gully. He was then flown to Gisborne Hospital for treatment.
Graham faced a long recovery including 12 days in hospital and six weeks out of action while he was on the mend. He has now fully recovered and continues the farm work he loves.
“I have been a supporter of various emergency services over the years as I’ve always admired the work they do in our community. I can’t thank pilot Neil Dodds and the rescue services enough for their support that day.”