Colleague Profile – Lidija Drakulic

We’re kicking off our series of colleague profiles today with Lidija…

Born in Cyprus, Lidija moved to the UK in 2014 to go to uni, and never went back. She joined us at The Insurance Emporium straight from uni in 2017 as a claims assessor and is now a Team Lead for our Claims Department.

Lidija started riding when she was seven; her sister was into horse riding, so she decided to give it a go too, and she soon became a competent showjumper. She started competing at the age of ten and was the Junior Champion in Cyprus for two years. She went on to compete both nationally and internationally for Cyprus and carried on competing when she moved to the UK.

Lidija show jumping on her horse

She got one of her best horses, Henry, when he was nine and he moved with her from Cyprus, and while she has acquired more horses since then, she’ll always remember Henry and his unique personality. It wasn’t so much that she chose him as her horse, but rather he chose her as his human – he would behave for her but then refuse to do things for anybody else.

This special bond between people and their horses (or horses and their people, in Henry’s case!) is one of the many reasons Lidija loves riding. Each horse is unique, with their own personality. One of her horses learned how to flick the light on with his nose! She also knew a horse who could work the zip on someone’s jacket if they were a bit slow to hand out the snacks, and one who would do anything for a strawberry!

Riding not only has physical benefits but can help with mental health too. Lidija says that when you’re on a horse you have to put all the stresses from your day to one side. Just for that hour, it’s just you and the horse, and if you’re stressed or anxious the horse can pick up on that and become stressed and anxious too. It’s a very intuitive relationship.

Lidija’s most significant riding experience took place in July 2021, when she was injured in a fall. She was riding a horse that belonged to someone else, and it seemed to be riding ok so she decided to have one last canter. Unfortunately, it threw her off.

Lidija on her horse, leaning over and smiling at the camera

She says she felt something go in her knee before she even hit the ground; she managed to get up and walk a few paces, but it felt like she was walking on jelly, and she noticed a lump on the side of her knee. She was persuaded to go to A&E where an X-ray revealed that she had shattered her right knee. She also had soft tissue damage to her left hip and nerve damage in her right hand.

She needed surgery to pin her leg back together and began her recovery. It was a long, slow, painful process, for lots of reasons; the UK was just coming out of a third lockdown, and Lidija had booked a long-awaited trip to Cyprus in August to see the family she hadn’t seen for such a long time, but this had to be cancelled and instead, she moved in with her sister for six months. By October she still only had a 50-degree range of motion in her knee, and she didn’t start weight-bearing until November.

The nerve damage in her hand lasted around a year, she is still having physio for her knee and is awaiting further treatment, but she says the hardest part is the mental side of things. Up until the accident riding was her life, her whole lifestyle revolved around horses, and it’s incredibly hard to see her friends’ social media posts about riding when she can’t ride herself. Prior to the accident she’d bought the horse of her dreams and had planned to train him, but sadly she’s had to take the difficult decision to let him go.

Lidija with two horses

But the old saying of getting back on the horse definitely applies to Lidija and she hasn’t let it put her off riding. She’s ridden a few times since the accident and, while she struggles, she’s hoping to get strong enough to train her young horse, Peanut, in the future. Even if she doesn’t go back to show jumping, riding is her life and horses will always be a part of it.

Her advice for anyone interested in riding? Just give it a go; have the first lesson and enjoy the time you spend with a horse, get to know them. It’s not about competing, it’s about all those little moments that make it worthwhile and that unique relationship between human and horse. And strawberries of course!

If you’re interested in taking up riding, we have a range of equine insurance products to cover you, either as just a rider or as an owner too. We can even cover your transportation with our horse trailer cover. Take a look and get a free, no-strings quote from one of our friendly team.