It’s with a very heavy heart that I am writing this blog from the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
Yesterday was full of the highs and lows of the sport for me. Louie (Zero Flight) went cross-country at 2.30pm, so I had plenty of time to watch the first few horses go. The course caused a few problems early on, so I went and walked the HSBC Market Place corners again to make sure I knew the lines I wanted to take before I got on.
When I warmed Louie up I was a little bit worried, as he was incredibly strong! I used to struggle with his bitting before he moved up to four-star, and he hasn’t run round a big track for a good year now so I think he had a lot of pent up energy. I also hurt my shoulder in that fall at Hambleden, so I wasn’t as strong as I usually am.
I needn’t have worried though, Louie knows the crack when he’s at a big event and he flew round. I can easily say it was our best round at four-star, he made it feel like a novice. We also put to bed the fact that he had a 20 penalties at The Lake here in 2011. He did trip down the HorseQuest Quarry at fence three, but I think he just had to remind me that he wasn’t absolutely perfect!
We finished with a few time-penalties, and I was kicking myself as I wasted a load of time in between the Quarry and the Irish Sport Horse Studbook Huntsman’s Close trying to plug in my Hit Air vest, as I had forgotten to do it before I started. I didn’t get it in, anyway, and that faffing about only slowed us down for that gallop — silly Lauren!
Louie finished the round brilliantly and recovered very quickly. We stopped him to take his heart rate and temperature one last time before heading back to the stables, and he became obviously uncomfortable. We took him straight to the vet down at the stables and had his leg scanned. Unfortunately, he showed signs of problems in his suspensory ligament, so we cannot run the risk of working him today. By making that decision last night, we were able to give him pain relief and make him comfortable.
For any horse, running at this level is a huge risk. Louie is too special a horse to run if he isn’t right, and he’s been an absolute star for me so I need to take care of him. Realistically, at his age, it is a big unknown as to whether he will return from an injury like this. We won’t know for a couple of weeks what the prognosis is.
I therefore feel gutted for my team, as they have been the ones to get me and Louie to where we are, and I would have loved to be able to have a great result here for everyone involved. You all know who you are, and I can never thank you enough.
However, I am blessed that I have a horse to bring home and we know that whatever the outcome, Louie will have a job here at Shannon Eventing for life; even if it’s as the yard lawnmower. Lord knows, he deserves it!
- Full report from Badminton in H&H this Thursday (9 May), including comment from Judy Harvey, Ian Stark and Mark Phillips, fence-by-fence cross-country analysis and a very special cover.