ANYONE involved with the horse racing industry will tell you it is more of a way of life than a career.
It gets into your blood and becomes something you can't live without.
Nothing could be truer for Tamworth jockey Mel Bolwell.
After suffering a life-threatening fall during a race at Warialda in 2017, the 24-year-old has set herself the goal of one day riding another winner.
The fall left Bolwell with a traumatic brain injury, a fractured neck, a fractured ankle and in a coma for 12 days.
However, the Picton native is committed to getting back to doing what she loves.
"It was obviously a pretty serious accident, but when I first woke up from the coma the first question I asked was when would I be able to ride again," Bolwell told the Leader.
"One thing I have hung onto is that I don't actually remember anything about the fall, so it doesn't really worry me too much.
"I have been back doing track work and now I am just waiting for the tick of approval from a specialist and Racing NSW to get back out there and race competitively."
Bolwell has recently brought her dream to race again to a national stage, appearing on the Nine Network's This Time Next Year program.
"I've really enjoyed getting back to track work, but I'm at the point now where it's just not really cutting it for me anymore," she said.
"I just really enjoy the competitive side of it and really miss going after a win.
"Hopefully, I'll be given the green light in the next few months to get back into riding competitively."
Bolwell was not the only jockey affected by the fall on that fateful day.
Her friend and mentor Darren Jones lost his life in the accident.
"Jonesy was a really special person in my life, and his death was such a tragedy," Bolwell said.
"I'm sure he'd be really pleased to see me getting back and looking to do something we both loved."
Tamworth trainer Sue Grills has watched Bolwell's recovery with interest, having employed her as an apprentice at the time of her fall, and believes the progress she has made "is just fantastic".
"The way Mel has handled herself and the dedication she has shown to riding again is really special," Grills said.
"It's an amazing story and an even more amazing comeback.
"Hopefully, Mel can get back to racing again because I know how much it means to her."
In recent months, Bolwell said she has turned her attention to a new aspect of the racing industry.
"For about the last six months or so, I have gone out and started training horses," she said.
"It's a totally different kettle of fish, compared to riding, but I am really enjoying myself so far.
"I don't think too many people really understand what it takes to be a trainer.
"I have really learned quickly that it is about living and breathing your work, because you are so hands-on in everything you do."
Bolwell said her family and partner Jack McGrath had been "so supportive" throughout her rehabilitation.
"I cannot thank everyone enough for all the support and help I have received since the fall," she said.
"Jack has been my absolute rock through all of this and has helped me at my lowest points.
"It's so exciting to now be taking on new projects together and hopefully that means riding again in the future."