Coral Keen’s eventing blog: Disappointment, vet visits and a trip to Ireland

  • Sadly my re-route to Blenheim Horse Trials with Wellshead Fare Opposition (Derby) didn’t quite go to plan. I made the decision to retire again on the cross-country and I felt incredibly deflated.

    I had a few tears back at the lorry, when I was wondering when things would start to go right, but my amazing family and team picked me back up to fight another day.

    Before going to Blenheim, I’d had a cross-country schooling session with Lucinda Green where we swapped Derby’s noseband for a grackle and it had really done the trick.

    I was having the most amazing ride on him at Blenheim, possibly the best ride of my life, and he was skipping over the fences. We were 10sec up on the minute markers until we came to fence 22, the Hollow.

    It was a rail to a ditch to a big skinny triple brush, which had caused problems all day.

    When we walked it I really studied it and thought at the time it was highly unlikely that a horse would run out to the left. However Derby proved me wrong and he ran straight past it in that direction, as did many others also!

    He’d already jumped some tricky combinations really well, so I didn’t think we’d have a problem or that there was any need to go the long route.

    The Hollow is in quite a dark area on the course and it’s quite tight so I decided not to represent and retired. With 20 penalties added to our score we were no longer competitive so I thought I would save him for another day.

    I was absolutely gutted as up until that stage he had literally breezed over the fences. He felt amazing.

    Before the cross-country, he did a super dressage test, although there was some disparity between the marks with one judge giving us 185, which would have put us in the top five, and another giving us 153 – a huge difference of 32 penalties.

    But Yogi Briesner and Tracie Robinson, dressage trainer to the British eventing team, both thought he had done a super test.

    On Saturday evening I really started to question whether all the hard work is worth it, but an afternoon off on Sunday, when I went with my family and friends to the Radio 2 concert in Hyde Park, cheered me up and by 4am on Monday I was on the road to Pontispool one-day event with three horses.

    I was very pleased with both Zoe and Wiverna, while Pluto (Aphrodisiac) had a stop across country. He’d done a beautiful dressage test and jumped clear showjumping.

    The vet was already coming to see Derby to give him a thorough check, so Pluto was added to the list too.

    We found Pluto has a tear in the joint capsule in his fetlock, which explains why he didn’t feel himself. He will now have six weeks off, which will allow the joint to stabilise and he should be fine.

    I’m also relieved that we have found a very tiny problem with Derby, which might explain why he ran out on Saturday.

    After Blenheim he trotted up 3/10ths lame so the vet nerve blocked his foot today and it looks like he has aggravated an overreach he picked up at Hartpury.

    While you can’t actually see he’s had an injury, underneath the surface it’s a similar action to rubbing your palms together with the parts that make up the bulb of the heel not quite knitting together properly.

    It’s not serious and with some corrective shoeing, we should be able to stabilise his foot.

    He will have some time off now, although I may give him another run in an open intermediate or advanced class depending on his recovery, as there are still six weeks to go of the eventing season. I am not overly happy about leaving his mindset as it is — walking home from the cross-country at two events — until next season.

    Last night we left for Ballindenisk in Ireland with Wiverna and Zoe. We drove through the night to get the ferry from Fishguard at 2.45am and we’ll now be spending a few days in beautiful rural Ireland in Co Cork.

    Fingers crossed for some Irish luck!


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