BACK HOME: Barcaldine horse trainer Todd Austin, his sons Tom and Toby, and wife Toni.
BACK HOME: Barcaldine horse trainer Todd Austin, his sons Tom and Toby, and wife Toni. Emma Boughen

Barcaldine horse trainer recovers from brain surgery

IN THE six months since returning home from brain surgery, champion Barcaldine horse trainer Todd Austin has come great lengths in regaining the parts of himself, his family had considered all but lost.

In September last year Todd Austin took 19 horses to the Birdsville Races, but couldn't remember some of their names, or which jockeys were paired to ride which horses.

And not long before that Todd's lacklustre reaction to his son's broken leg twigged serious concern with his wife Toni.

"I knew something was wrong then," she said.

"That's not him, he just had no emotion."

For more than five years Todd had suffered from severe headaches, and had been diagnosed with depression.

"It was frustrating, because he kept telling me that he didn't have depression," Toni said.

"On one of our visits to the doctor they advised that we just double the dose.

"There was no way."

After returning home from Birdsville Toni pushed doctors to investigate further.

In just a few weeks Todd was diagnosed with a huge brain tumour and was undergoing life-saving surgery to remove it.

"Something like this certainly makes you appreciate things a lot more I tell you," Todd said.

Following surgery Todd was placed in an induced coma for 16 days and kept in hospital in Brisbane until December.

For those three months Toni picked up the slack at home, raising their two boys, and running the stables.

"I became on overnight trainer," she laughed.

"We had some fantastic staff that helped me so much, and I was on the phone to Todd all the time.

"Being in a small community like Barcaldine as well everyone just rallies around to help."

While Todd has lost sight in his left eye, and now walks with a limp on his left leg, he is showing no signs of slowing down.

He is training 25 horses at his home stables, and Toni said she can see his personality and passion for training slowly coming back.

"Before his headaches started, SkyRacing was always playing in the background, but that disappeared as his condition grew worse," Toni said.

"He used to say 'why am I doing this (horse training)', 'I don't want to do this anymore'.

"But I knew he did. He just had to hold on.

"And just in the past month or so SkyRacing has made a come back."


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