By Jordan Gerrans
The darkest days of Skye Bogenhuber’s riding career have delivered the Toowoomba jockey a second lease on life and a new focus.
Doctors count the 36-year-old lucky to be alive right now, let alone continuing to ride at a high level across the Darling Downs.
Dubbed the "Queen of Clifford Park" for all the winners she has ridden under lights, it almost all came to an end just a couple of years ago.
Following a fall in a jump-out at Toowoomba in March of 2019, the experienced jockey was unconscious for two days and her family feared she was not going to wake up.
She suffered a brain bleed and this week reflected on the “traumatic” experience.
She did wake up and despite concerns she would never ride again, Bogenhuber was back on race day just seven months later and remains at the top of her game.
Following the toughest stretch of her career, Bogenhuber is putting her learnings and experience to good use, now studying to be a clinical neuroscience nurse.
The first female hoop to claim the Clifford Park jockey premiership became so intrigued by the brain, its inner workings and the ability for it to recover following incidents like a significant fall from a horse, that she decided to dedicate her post-racing life towards helping others.
“I am that fascinated by the human brain these days, I listen to brain neuroscience podcasts to fall asleep at night,” Bogenhuber explained.
“I love it and I have learnt so much since my fall.
“I am astounded how my brain has recovered and when I meet my neurologist, he would just shake his head and say 'they do not come back like this, it should not work like your brain after you have hit it so hard.'
“It amazes me the human brain, it is amazing.”
Enrolled at the University of Southern Queensland, Bogenhuber is one year into her degree with a couple more to go.
She thinks her studies have finally given her real balance away from the racetrack, juggling track work in the morning, race riding as well as regular lectures, laboratory school and tutorials.
“I am absolutely loving it,” she said.
“It has given me a good balance in my life; it takes my concentration away a little bit from riding so it isn’t everything in my life anymore - I am very happy doing it.
“The fall was bad, but a good thing has come of a bad situation - it made me go and enrol.”