But now he is looking forward to the highlight of his career as Junior Springbok vice-captain and No 8 at the forthcoming World Rugby U20 Championship in Argentina.
In his matric year, Horn’s rugby career was perfectly on track as he was named the vice-captain of the DHL Western Province U18 SA Rugby Craven Week team, but his world came tumbling down a week before the tournament, due to an irregular heart-beat.
The doctor ordered him to take it as easy as possible for three weeks before being able to determine the extent of his heart issue. He was diagnosed with myocarditis and after six months of no physical exercise, and a year-and-a-half of trying to get back to his desired fitness levels, Horn is elated to be able to give everything on the field.
This burning desire to play the sport he loves saw Horn score four tries in the Junior Springboks’ first warm-up game of the season, against Georgia in Paarl, and with his health scare now history, he is embracing his rugby and is honoured with being named joint vice-captain of the Junior Springboks with centre Rikus Pretorius.
“I was in the Junior Springbok set-up last year and I dropped out before we played a match, so my big goal this year was just to be in the team,” said Horn.
“To be named as one of the vice-captains is a privilege, and I am really looking forward to the responsibility and everything that comes with it.”
After serving in the captain and vice-captain roles during the team’s warm-up matches, Horn is ready for the responsibility in Argentina, and said: “The experience I gained from our matches up to now certainly prepared me for what to expect at the World Rugby U20 Championship.
“It taught me how to react in certain situations and to learn from my own mistakes, as well as how to correct them, so it definitely benefitted me in my role. This will also allow me to assist Phepsi (Junior Springbok captain, Phendulani Buthelezi) as much as possible.”
Speaking about his heart condition, the player who turns 20 years old on Friday, 24 June, said: “The battery of my heart broke down slightly, which resulted in an irregular heartbeat. There were times when I would not be doing any physical activity but it felt as though I had played an entire rugby game. It also made me very tired.
“I initially had to stop all forms of training for three weeks and go for a scan so that the doctors could determine if the damage was permanent or not, and fortunately it was not because it would have meant that I would have had to stop all sport.
“Luckily after the three weeks my heartbeat improved, and for six months I couldn’t do any form of exercise. It is now a year-and-a-half later and I feel that I am finally where I want to be.
“In those first three weeks and in the months following that, I certainly had doubts about whether I would play again, but fortunately we picked it up early enough.”
Horn was delighted to be selected for the World Rugby U20 Championship squad, and he admitted the fact that he didn’t make the cut last season drove him to work even harder to achieve it this year.
“I didn’t really expect to be in the Junior Springbok training group last year, so although it was a big disappointment not to be selected for the squad, I realise in hindsight that I wasn’t ready for it then,” said Horn.
“This year, however, I feel like I am back in the shape I would like to be and it is a real privilege to be here now. It has always been one of my goals to play for the Junior Springboks, and after playing for the SA Schools team as well, I see it as a stepping stone to possibly making it to the Springbok team one day.”
Looking ahead to the World Rugby U20 Championship, he said: “We have been working hard since last November to get ready for the competition, and we have focused a lot on the basics and trying to play the brand of rugby we would like to play. I believe we need to stick to our structures over in Argentina, and if we do that, we certainly have a chance to win the title.”