Kyra recalls her ride on Matador at 1991 World Cup finals

The run up to the 1991 World Cup finals was not ideal. Although I had chosen and prepared the music for the competition, I thought that maybe it ought to be done properly, so I sent the programme away to a studio to be made up.

Matador and I then went to Germany to train with Herbert Rehbein for two weeks and while we there the new tape arrived. But when we rode through it, it was too long.

It was all becoming a bit of a panic, but I went back to Finland with the tape, took it to the studio and suggested where they cut it. I then had to get to Paris for the World Cup and I finally got the finished tape when I was already at the show.

No one had seen me perform a kr with Matador and I wanted to do something different, so I devised what became known as the “Kyrouette” – a piaffe pirouette that became a canter pirouette.

We had previously won the grand prix with so many people watchingthat when I came to the practice arena I decided I didn’t want to show everyone what I was going to do in the kr. So I didn’t practice, even though this meant that I still hadn’t ridden the programme for real.

I was drawn last to go. I knew Matador wouldn’t make mistakes, but the music was still worrying me slightly. The programme was going really well and included half-pass to shoulder-in to half-pass to shoulder-in followed by half-pass in passage, so it was quite inventive. The crowd was fantastic – people were clapping through the test, but it didn’t bother Matador.

For the final movement, I was supposed to canter down the long side and turn halfway, but the music didn’t change and I got to the end of the arena without doing anything.

It then went into the final piaffe and I was in a totally different spot and had no idea when the music was going to stop. I waited and waited, all the time in a one-handed piaffe, but Matador just kept piaffing perfectly – all in all for 32 steps.

Everyone assumed that I meant to do it and we finished with a clear win, but so many things could have gone wrong.

That was the last show I ever rode Matador at. His owner had to sell him and he went to a Japanese rider. Before he left Finland, we performed our kr again under the spotlights at the Helsinki show.

This spring, he developed trouble with his balance, which was thought to bein his back. He was put down and is buried under a silver birch tree.

Don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound (7 November) where Jo Bates talks about her ‘ride of a lifetime’ at the RIHS on Broadstone Dee.

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