How a broken down car 12 years ago changed the course of a Burghley first-timer’s life

  • Horse & Hound’s Lucy Elder caught up with Burghley Horse Trials first-timer Harry Mutch after his dressage test with HD Bronze to find out about this pair’s incredible story, which all started with a broken down car... *Please be patient to allow the video below to load*

    It was a broken down car that brought about a life-changing moment for Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials first-timer Harry Mutch.

    Twelve years ago, Harry’s parents were on their way to a riding lesson when their car broke down. Harry, who was 13 at the time, had never ridden – rugby was his sport.

    “My dad had to stay with the car and said to my mum, ‘You’re going to have to take Harry for a riding lesson’.

    “I said, ‘I don’t know about that!’,” says Harry.

    “I got dragged along, quite enjoyed it and decided I would go back the next week. From there on, I was hooked.”

    If it wasn’t for that sliding doors moment, Harry believes he “would probably never have been here”.

    And it wasn’t until Harry left school that he really considered riding as a career.

    “I hadn’t even ridden round a novice then, so it was a big commitment to go that way” says Harry, who is supported by the Wesko Equestrian Foundation.

    “I left school and went straight to work on a yard and learnt the ropes. It was there I realised that was what I wanted to do.”

    The Lincolnshire fixture also had a leading role to play in that summer of 2010.

    “Burghley was the first event I actually came to watch, I think I had actually only been riding a couple of months then,” he remembers.

    “I turned up here and thought, ‘oh my God, what’s this?’ Never thinking one day I was going to ride here. Then a few years later that became the dream – and now, we are here.”

    Harry partners his mother Carole Mutch’s 16-year-old Irish sport horse HD Bronze at his first Burghley Horse Trials, and the pair’s CV include completions at Badminton Horse Trials and the one-off Bicton Horse Trials CCI5* last summer.

    Their first-phase score of 30.8 is a personal best at five-star, and reigning Burghley champion Pippa Funnell was on hand to support the pair before their test.

    “She told me just to enjoy it,” says Harry, who has been based with Pippa for the past two months in preparation for Burghley.

    “She’s really good at just making you feel relaxed before your test, you are doing the right thing, that you know where you should be and how to do it. It takes the pressure off a bit so you can relax, go in and think you are doing a good job. That’s really helped me over the last few months to knock my scores up.”

    Harry Mutch and HD Bronze will be the fourth combination to tackle Derek di Grazia’s 2022 Burghley Horse Trials cross-country course today (3 September), leaving the start box at 11.45am.

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