Kevin Jochems’ Road to Recovery

Kevin Jochems & Zanzibar, competing at the 2016 LGCT Miami Beach.

Persistent. Resilient. Determined. Focused. These are just a few words one could use to describe Holland’s Kevin Jochems. The 21-year-old, up and coming rider is not allowing his dreams of being at the top of show jumping ranks be swayed by his tumultuous, past six months. After suffering from a freak accident this past fall in Oliva, Spain where he broke his pelvis, Jochems is back in Holland resting up for his big plans for the future.

After having a breakout year in 2016, competing alongside superstars Marco Kutscher and Roger Yves-Bost on the Cannes Stars Global Champions League team, Jochems is not letting his injury slow him down. Read on to learn about his determination on the road to recovery, his long term goals, and his newfound appreciation for show jumping.

Noelle Floyd: You had a bad fall in October of 2016 at MET Oliva breaking your pelvis and required surgery. What happened?
Kevin Jochems:
I was in Oliva, Spain for the tour from October to November, and the plan was to be there for four weeks and compete with six horses. During the first week, the horses did very well so I had a few days off because I didn’t have the young horses with me. On Wednesday, I was doing some flatwork, nothing special, just cantering, and my horse stumbled and I fell under him and broke my pelvis in two pieces.

I had surgery in Spain that day because of internal bleeding, which needed to be stopped. They paralyzed my pelvis so the bleeding could stop. Then after two days in intensive care, I went to a normal hospital room since my internal bleeding was under control. A week later, I flew back to Holland, to Rotterdam, and had a second surgery on my pelvis to put it in the right position and put metal plates in to stabilize it. 

NF: What was your rehab like and how long did it take to get back in the saddle?
I came home November 15th and was exhausted. The first week at home I just slept. I was not allowed to walk for six weeks. I was allowed to move, but only two legs at the same time—kind of like a frog, since I was not allowed to put pressure on my pelvis by walking with one leg in front of the other. On December 20th, I went back to the hospital and they said everything looked good so I could walk again. But, I had to learn to walk again, so that took another few weeks. From the moment I could walk again, the recovery went pretty quickly—I could do normal things again. Since the second week of January, I’ve been allowed to drive a car so I could go to the stable. I’m happy I can do some things again. Now I ride everyday, only one horse, sometimes two. I am starting to jump again, so the past few months have been going very well in my recovery.

NF: Now that you’re back, what are your goals for 2017?
I would like to do some small shows and see how everything goes with my body. And then, I don’t really have goals yet, but last year I did some Globals and did some 5*, so of course I’d like to do more because that’s my dream. If I can do that by the summer again, I’m absolutely going to try it, I have a great team around me that supports me, so for sure going to try it, but it is difficult to say since I’m still on the ground.

NF: Before your injury in 2016, you recently had moved up to the 5* level and competed at a few LGCT events, can you tell me more about the step up?
KJ: At the time, it went very quickly and I was very focused on my horses and trying to do well. I had a few very nice results in the GCL, 2nd in Mexico City and 3rd in Chantilly, so I was very happy with that. At that moment, when I was there, I didn’t even realize I was there since I was so focused on my horses and so focused on my job. But after my fall, and the weeks in bed at home, I’ve had the time to think a lot and now realized that competing at the 5* level and Global events is very special, especially since I’m only 21. I was working hard and had such great people around me, so it’s something to be very proud of.

NF: You were teammates with Roger-Yves Bost, Marco Kutscher, and Rose Brouwer on the GCL Cannes Star team, what was it like competing alongside such big names? What did you learn from them?
Very nice! Of course it’s good to meet with those people, to talk with them to get experience. They help me a lot, and they help teach me a lot. They wouldn’t necessarily tell me what to do, but when I had some small questions I asked them and they gave me advice, which was really nice. I think it’s a great thing to work together with those people. They have so much experience and they know so much about horses, horsemanship, courses, shows, you name it— they can help you with everything you want. Both give me confidence, which is very important. It’s already really exciting for me to be there and compete there, but they were both very relaxed and they gave me a confident feeling, which is really important.

NF: What are your long term goals? Do they involve the Olympics, or senior Nations Cups teams?
I want to do everything! I don’t really have one goal. It would be amazing to be on the senior team for the Netherlands. I was on teams for juniors and young riders, but it would be really nice to compete on the senior teams. Not for one year, but for years—that’s of course the goal. Also, to participate in championships, again, not just one, but the Europeans, World Championships, the Olympic Games. It’s not that I have one thing I want to do once and then when I reach my goal, that’s it. I really want to be on the top of the sport and to stay there for years. Many people can get there, but staying there is extremely difficult—that’s the goal.

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