Long Journey Home: Paralyzed Jockey Nolan Maintains His Sense Of Humor In Minnesota

by | 08.12.2017 | 10:14am
Paul Nolan

English jockey Paul Nolan has been in the United States since the 1980s, and became a popular local rider at Minnesota's Canterbury Park where he earned the nickname “The Sod Surgeon” for his skill on the turf course. In April of 2017, Nolan was paralyzed in a riding accident at Will Rogers Downs, after which he was treated at Denver's Craig Institute for several months, and according to canterburylive.com he and his wife were just this week able to move back to Minnesota, closer to their Minneapolis home.

The incident that cost Nolan his career happened on the gallop out after a race, when his mount fell and landed on top of him. Nolan remembers parts of the horrific day, including lying in the dirt unable to move and pieces of the ride in the ambulance. Though nothing in his spinal cord was severed or broken, severe swelling has still left him with the inability to move his arms or legs.

Despite it all, Nolan maintains his exceptional sense of humor. At the Craig Institute he was driving around in a wheelchair operated by a straw, through which more or less force when blowing into it allowed him to move. He joked, “I crashed into more things with that chair than I ever did on a horse.”

Read more at canterburylive.com.

  • Michael Shea

    My best wishes go out to Paul Nolan. Although I will hope for a full recovery, it looks like he will be able to handle whatever comes his way. Keep that sense of humor and know that there are many fans out here rooting for you and your family.

  • Jock Mcneil

    There’s not a classier guy on the planet

    • Alex

      Agree, all class.

  • whirlaway

    Best wishes to you Mr. Nolan and hoping for progress for you. Once again the reminder of what can happen to a jockey and any accidents with horses.

  • Mimi Hunter

    Sounds like he is keeping a positive attitue – that often helps more than medicine. Prayers and good wishes to Mr Nolan for a full recovery.


    Just to clarify, Paul can move his legs, but can’t stand up on his own yet. He has movement in his hands, but can’t lift his arms yet. He can shrug his shoulders. Their is much optimism for further improvement. Also, Paul was at Craig in Denver but I was at home in Minnesota taking care of things here. So very happy he is back in Minnesota. Thank you for the article.

    • Alison Chell

      My mum was watching Paul doing his exercises and more! You have never seen the pain he has been in with spasms! Holding on to his knees! U ain’t got a clue! Just take care and look after mums son and our darling bruv!

    • Alison Chell

      Just wondering, you are coming out with all these medical quotes? Do you actually know what they mean? Are you PhD quailed? Don’t think so! I know more than you as I have qualifications! And understand more about Paul’s condition than you will!!!!!

  • Alison Chell

    This message is from Paul’s family in England, where my mum who is 80yrs old and my sister, travelled over 6000 miles, to see our darling Paul. It’s a pity his ‘wife’, could not travel to see him! It wouldn’t have taken as long, but as usual, she was worse off with all her ‘health problems and cats’. Anybody that knows Paul are entitled to contact him and see him at anytime! Paul’s family

  • Lisa

    Paul is a great guy loved to hear all his stories. I pray for a full recovery, and all the pain to be gone. I do regret not taking the time to go see you in the hospital so sorry, see you again soon, much love.

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