It was so disappointing to part company with Derby (Wellshead Fare Opposition) yesterday at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials’ Cottesmore Leap. Disappinting for me and all my team, but we live to fight another day and will now go to Pau in October and then Badminton in May.
Up until that point Derby was an absolute dream and was flying. At Capability’s Cutting he was foot perfect, and as we came up Winners’ Avenue I just felt that we were slightly underpowered. I asked for a big stride, but the distance I saw didn’t seem to be there and Derby really reached for the fence, clipping the back rail and I came off.
After I’d managed to catch him, I walked the long way back with the most excruciating headache. Derby was checked over by the vets and was given a couple of stitches for a small cut and I went to see the doctor as by this time the headache had subsided, but my back was extremely painful and we thought I might have chipped a bone.
So we headed off for X-rays and I was strapped to a board when they heard what had happened. Luckily, an MRI scan revealed severe bruising, so while I am still very sore, I’m really thankful that it’s nothing more than that.
I just feel like I’ve let Derby down more than anything. I thought he’d be really stiff this morning, but he’s been merrily towing Alex (van Tuyll, who is grooming for me this week) around wondering when he’s going to be the centre of attention again at the trot-up.
There are lots of positives to draw from our experience. During the warm-up Derby was really focused. Normally he tries to take over, but this time he was exactly where I needed him to be and was listening to me.
We set off and he was so good. I didn’t have any control issues, like I had last year, and every fence he was foot perfect. I don’t feel like I have to go home and work on anything like last year when we spent the winter taking everything apart and sorting out some braking issues. The fall was just really bad luck.
The wonderful thing about the sport of eventing is how supportive everyone has been, with so many people getting in touch and coming up to me asking if I’m okay. I had a little walk round this morning and Katherine Partis, who dressed me for the trot-up on Wednesday, burst into tears when she saw me, she was so relieved. It is such a lovely family feel and I’d like to say a huge thank you for all the good wishes. They really do mean everything.
I’ll set off for home at about lunch time and should be back by 4.30pm when I’ll put Derby on the field for a couple of hours and go and have a long, hot soak in the bath!