Tales from Hartpury: Teenager lands a title just one month after appendix surgery

  • Megan Austin claimed the top spot of the medium silver under-21 title at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, just a month after having her appendix out.

    Megan and Kingcarra Carrick Cruise scored 66.62% for the win, with the 17-year-old explaining that today was the first time she has been able to do sitting trot since her surgery.

    Having already banked qualification for the Area Festival Championships, Megan Austin came down with appendicitis on 13 March, the day she was competing at the Merrist Wood winter regionals at elementary with the Carrick Diamond Lad 13-year-old gelding.

    “I had a stomach ache all day but it was quite high up so it didn’t click, and I thought it was just because I was nervous,” said Megan, who did in fact still manage to finish sixth and gain a wildcard to the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships at elementary. “Then the pain moved lower in my second test and I was quite ill on the way home, so we went to A&E. I had my appendix out four days later.”

    Megan has been back in action for only a couple of weeks before making the trip to Hartpury, with her trainer Shellie Beattie keeping “Berts” ticking over while she was off games. She started her week competing in the Equi-Trek elementary silver, however a “tack malfunction” resulted in elimination, but her championships took a definite turn for the better with this Petplan Equine Area Festival title.

    “I was surprised and genuinely chuffed just to get here, let alone win. I’m not 100% yet but I’m a lot better than I was,” said Megan, explaining that Berts “carried me round”.

    “He has got a sensible head and deals very well with everything. He loves his job,” she said. “I have had him for four years since he was nine, but he was young for his age and had never done dressage before, so we brought him up from prelim to medium. Today we made no major mistakes and his trot work flowed a lot better so I was really pleased. He is finding medium level easier now, and we’re starting to get to grips with it all.”

    Megan is studying for A levels in English Literature and business, and considering going into bookkeeping and accountancy, though her main aim is to work with horses, and go as far up the levels as possible.

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