Emma Forsyth is attempting her first four-star at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials next week, just 10 months after having a baby.
“I had Florence via C section last November which made me quite floppy when it came to core strength and getting back on a horse,” says Emma, who is based in Warwickshire. “I had never been unfit before so I had to work hard to regain it.”
Emma’s Burghley ride will be Soltair Justice, a 12-year-old grey.
“I’ve got to get there first,” Emma laughs. “I entered two years ago but we had a setback.”
Emma bought ‘Leo’ before the start of the 2014 season. He had been initially produced by Emma Nuttall, sister of showjumper Harriet, before William Fox-Pitt took him one-star and Rosie Fry then took him successfully to two-star.
“I’ve taken him quietly as he’s big, standing at 17.1hh and is quite long too, but he always wants to jump between the flags,” explains Emma. “I didn’t want him to learn to run away with me and I had one moment galloping down a hill in the three-star at Blair Horse Trials three years ago and I realised I didn’t have him completely with me — it’s not that he gets strong in the mouth, he just has an enormous stride — so I changed his bit and he has been great.”
In fact, as a combination, Leo and Emma haven’t incurred a cross-country jumping penalty.
“He’s a bit of a worrier and just wants to do right,” says Emma, who has a stable of 11 horses at home. “He’s a real trier and a great jumper but can jump too high which can get him into trouble with regards to making distances in combinations.”
Jodie Amos kept Leo ticking over last year while Emma was pregnant, but since returning to eventing, she and Leo have clocked a seventh place in the CIC3* at Chatsworth and 20th in the CCI3* at Bramham in June.
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“I always visited Burghley as a child, as I grew up in Nottinghamshire,” explains Emma. “I just hope we get there this time!”
Don’t miss H&H’s Burghley preview issues — course walk with Mary King and interview with event director Liz Inman in this week’s issue (dated 24 August) and 16-page pull-out with form guide for every entry in the following issue (dated 31 August).