Alice Dunsdon’s popular four-star campaigner Fernhill Present is “making good progress” after surgery on an infected joint following a freak accident.

“Hilly” and Alice were hunting on Tuesday (25 October) with the Surrey Union when the accident happened.

“We were just going through a gate when for some reason his hind leg slipped and went into a little ditch,” she told H&H today (Thursday, 27 October).

“I thought nothing of it, then I saw he had a tiny cut, no bigger than a 50 pence piece on the outside of his fetlock joint.

“Straight away I knew that was a really bad place to get a cut.”

Luckily they were close to home so Alice, who was field-mastering at the time, left one of the joint masters in charge and phoned her vet, PJ McMahon, as she took Hilly back to the yard.

The vet came out straight away and together they decided the best thing would be to take Hilly to Liphook Equine Hospital immediately in case the joint was affected.

“To look at and even when we scanned it, it didn’t look like it had gone into the joint,” said Alice, adding that it was only tapping the joint that revealed the infection.

The team at Liphook moved as fast as possible to get Hilly into theatre and the joint flushed.

Alice, who had just been to visit him when she spoke to H&H, said he is “doing well and making good progress”.

“He is such a fighter,” she added.

“He is recovering quickly, now we just have to make sure no infection starts.”

“Hopefully if everything continues well, he will be home within a week. But we will keep him there for a while just to make sure.

“If all goes to plan, he should be back in work and out competing again next year.

“We are just taking each day as it comes.”

Alice and Hilly made history at Badminton this year when they became the first horse and rider combination to compete at all six of the world’s four-star events.

The pair successfully completed Adelaide (2015), Kentucky (2014), Luhmuhlen (2013), Burghley (2012) and Pau (2011).

She shared her story through a series of blogs on the H&H website.

The 14-year-old gelding had been enjoying his work before the accident.

“He has been good — he has been showjumping well and loving his hunting,” said Alice.

“I have hunted him since he was a five-year-old and he always thoroughly enjoys his days.

“It is just one of those things.”

Hilly’s accident was the second sad incident to touch the yard this week, after Alice’s old campaigner Virgil had a heart attack on the hunting field and died on Saturday (22 October).

The 18-year-old ex-racehorse had been evented by Alice’s head girl Jenny Mckibben and had been in hunt service for five years.


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He had been jumping well and cantered up the hill to a halt, when he died.

“It all happened so quickly, everyone was brilliant around him,” said Alice.

“He was doing what he loved doing — the whole yard was in shock.

“These testing times make us stronger.”