Almost a year ago, Gary Foggon and his NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championship ride Who’s A Boozer, were hacking out near their Derbyshire home on a Sunday morning. The next moment a car ran into the back of them.

“We were hit and thrown 20ft down the road,” says Gary, who rides and teaches full-time. “I don’t know how the driver didn’t see us — I was wearing hi-viz, this horse is grey, it was a pleasant day and we were positioned correctly in the road.”

In “blind panic” Who’s A Boozer got up and ran up an embankment before turning around and galloping back onto the road where he fell.

“He went splat and I thought he was going to die,” said Gary. “It was one of the worst moments in my life.”

Miraculously the pair walked away just battered and bruised but with no major injuries.

“We abandoned last season and Who’s A Boozer had three months off in the field. Amazingly he is still perfect to hack out,” says Gary of the 15.1hh seven-year-old.

Bred by Gary’s partner Mark Caley, the Contago x Bazaars Exclusive gelding has also evented up to BE100, gaining dressage scores as low as 14.3 (85.7%).

“He’s a nervy and spooky sort, but he has never let us down,” says Gary. “He’s a one-man horse and across country he’s a lion — if I tell him he can do something, he will do it.”

Gary admits though that he and Mark “never thought he would do anything”.

“As a two-year-old he was bullied in the field by other youngsters for haylage,” explains Gary. “This then came out in his character whenever I tried to get on him once he was broken — as soon as my foot touched the stirrup, he would shoot off and I’d nearly always end up on the floor.”

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But with time and patience, Who’s A Boozer has come to trust Gary, and the pair came 12th in the Baileys Horse Feeds novice freestyle gold class.

“After last year, it’s amazing that we have made it here.”

For a full report from the British Dressage Winter Championships and Area Festival final – as well as news, views and expert comment – don’t miss Thursday’s (19 April) issue of Horse & Hound