Nana Dalton’s Burghley blog: all change, meet ‘super sub’ Bug

  • Plans have changed for our Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials guest blogger, who will be competing a different horse than originally planned at the four-star

    Our life with horses is a treasured journey, one that is ever evolving and one that rarely sticks to plan A! Our preparations for this year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials are an example of that. I double entered two horses, Absolut Opposition (Miley) and Elite Syncopation (Bug) with the intention of Miley competing and Bug being on stand by in case we needed to swap him in as a reserve. Well, for the second time this season, ‘super sub Bug’ has got the call up and will now be heading to Burghley for his first four-star!

    At the end of last week, Miley had a bit of a snotty nose and although a course of antibiotics seems to have cleared it up now, I don’t want to risk taking a horse to one of the world’s biggest events with any doubt in the back of my mind over his well being. It is disappointing for him and his owners, but I have too much respect for all my horses to risk them if they’re not 100%. There is always another day, so he’ll now be aimed at Pau four-star in October. On the plus side, I’m incredibly fortunate to have a legend of a horse to take his place at Burghley.

    A lot has already been reported about Bug being a ‘medical marvel’ so I won’t dwell on too much of the details, but for those of you that don’t know him, he has had no less than five operations. These include being on the operating table three times for injuries such as ripping the tendon sheath out of his leg and breaking a few vertebrae, resulting in his withers being removed. He is the sort of horse who should have a blockbuster film made of his incredible story!

    It is all credit to the love and patience of his lovely owner Sheila Jones that he is still even with us, to the Liphook Equine Hospital for all their care and expertise and to Bug’s immense resilience and love of the sport that he has earnt his place in the Burghley line-up alongside most of the world’s best horses.

    Fair play also goes to Sheila’s flexibility to keep adapting to our journeys, which change direction en route. In the spring he was due to run at Bramham, but following a similar substitution situation went to France for Saumur and this autumn we were planning on going to France for Pau, and now it’s destination Burghley!

    There is certainly still plenty going on over the next few days in our lead up to Burghley. Along with our usual final preparations for a three-day event, we are currently looking for a new yard and are heading to Wellington on Sunday with two horses in the advanced class.

    Then on Tuesday morning, as we’re preparing to travel to Lincolnshire, my sister Fuzzy will be in hospital preparing for her double mastectomy that day. As we carry the BRCA1 gene that makes us at greater risk of developing breast cancer, we have both decided to have the preventive operation this autumn and so will be thinking of her and hoping all goes really well.

    Looking forward to seeing you at Burghley!


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