We often say that horses wouldn’t jump if they didn’t like it… French eventer Tom Carlile got proof of that last weekend when competing at a national event, Saint Cyr du Doret, near La Rochelle on France’s west coast.

He was riding seven-year-old Venega in a novice class, and was near the end of his cross-country round when disaster struck.

Tom Carlile loose horse XC 5

“Eventing in France isn’t as well organised as it is in Britain, and the stringing on the track was rather approximate,” explained Tom.

“Coming to the second-last fence we had to pass very close to the water jump which had been jumped earlier on the course.

“Jean Teulère was jumping through it, which spooked my horse. Venega spun round, I fell off and he headed off after Jean and jumped the course again behind him.

Tom Carlile loose horse XC 3

“Luckily, Jean [a highly experienced rider and member of the French team that won Olympic gold in Athens in 2004] saw the funny side.”

Neither horse and rider combination was hurt, but Tom said: “I think Jean should have been stopped, and my horse caught before he was allowed to continue.

“There could have been an accident – he could have galloped into someone. The fence stewards were very young, there weren’t enough radios and each steward had several fences to look after.”

Tom, a member of France’s bronze medal-winning team at last year’s European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle, missed out on Olympic selection because his top horse, Sirocco Du Gers, had an inflamed splint bone.

The Manchester-born rider is coming to Britain to compete at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe this weekend.

H&H contacted the event organisers and governing body France Complet for their response.