When a horse bit off her little finger, Sonja Johnson didn’t want to bother flying doctors so she caught a commercial flight, popping the finger in an esky – hand luggage.
Australian equestrian stalwart Johnson was in Albany in Western Australia but after flying to Perth, the finger couldn’t be reattached.
Johnson says she misses it, but confesses to sometimes using the missing finger “appallingly” – waving her hand in front of misbehaving children.
“I just rip my hand out … and say ‘see what happens if you’re careless’,” she told AAP.
“The whole finger story, best told over several glasses of wine – it’s a very funny story.
“I don’t get sick of talking about it because I have now turned it into something that can be useful … to try and motivate other people, to make them aware of safety.
“And also make them aware that just because something isn’t there any more, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t another way around the problem.”
Since losing her right little finger in 2004, Johnson has won an Olympic silver medal in 2008 and remained at the upper echelon of her sport.
And it certainly won’t stop her competing at the Sydney International Horse Trials over this Anzac weekend – one of two Australian selection events for this year’s World Equestrian Games.
Johnson has driven her horses more than 4000 kilometres to compete, from Albany to Sydney – and overcome tyre blowouts on the border of Western Australia and South Australia.
“The nearest tyres were 10 hours away in Kalgoorlie … people that owned the station put the tyres on the rims and put me on the road again,” she said.
Johnson is bullish about her chances of repeating her 2008 victory at the Sydney International and boosting her chances of selection for the world games in Normandy, France, this August.
And the fact the three-day Sydney event starts on Anzac Day adds significance for Johnson.
“The Anzac tradition actually, in a way, started in Albany, Western Australia, and of course I’m from Albany. That is where the fleet left from, 100 years ago November this year,” she said.
“And so my goal for the year is to make sure the Australian flag flies proudly in Europe once again.”