Lincolnshire-based Emily Prangnell says she never believed she would jump around a four-star, but next week she is heading to her first Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
“I used to suffer with nerves considerably,” says the 26-year-old. “I struggled to go cross-country around a BE100 track. Thankfully my trainers Ian Woodhead and Ian Bennett have helped considerably, and I also found performance psychologist Charlie Unwin’s workshops fascinating.”
Emily says that a large part of these nerves was due to the fact she had a good horse on her hands; DHI Beaunesse, who she will ride at Burghley.
“I bought ‘Dolly’ when she was five from Ian and Heidi Woodhead,” explains Emily, who now buys and sells horses for a living with business partner Charlotte Hogg. “She nearly jumped me off when I tried her, and she popped 1.30m for fun, so I knew she was the one. I didn’t know what a four-star horse felt like but I said to Mum, ‘If this isn’t a four-star horse, then I don’t know what is’. The pressure of everyone knowing I was riding a talented horse made me so nervous when I went competing.”
Now 12 years old, Dolly and Emily have moved up the levels together, with their best result coming in the form of third place in the CCI3* under-25 at Bramham in 2016.
“I said to Mum after we popped round Bramham, and again there this year in the CIC3*, that if I didn’t go to Burghley on Dolly, I didn’t know when I would. It’s only just starting to hit what we’re doing — we started at one-star and then quietly progressed up the levels and now suddenly we find ourselves here.”
Emily, who isn’t from a horsey family, says that her nerves are starting to kick in.
“I’m terrified, but also so excited. I’ve been banned from watching the cross-country preview — I watched it once and then my trainer said, ‘No more! You need to get some sleep between now and then!’”
Former double Burghley winner Blyth Tait walks the cross-country course for this year's event, giving his views in videos of
Dolly is quite a character too.
“She is a diva and likes everything her own way at home — the yard revolves around her,” laughs Emily. “She can’t be tied up either, whether it’s at home or at an event — she just breaks loose. She’s actually a lot like this in her ridden work too — she likes to get on with things, which can sometimes make life difficult in the dressage! But the bigger the crowd, the better she goes, so although I have no idea how she will cope with her first four-star, I’m hoping the big atmosphere will encourage her to show off.”
Read Blyth Tait’s thoughts on every fence on the cross-country course, plus ratings and his overall impressions, in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine (dated 30 August). Full Burghley form guide also included in this issue, with vital stats and H&H’s expert assessment of every combination competing.