‘It makes me emotional’: rider makes incredible injury recovery to compete at Burghley thanks to support team

  • Horse & Hound’s Lucy Elder caught up with Emma Hyslop-Webb at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials to find out about how she’s managed to come back from a broken foot just five weeks ago to be ready to compete at the autumn five-star *Please be patient to allow the video below to load*

    It takes a village to get a horse to a five-star. And for Emma Hyslop-Webb, that support team has been wider and more crucial than ever in her final preparations for the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

    Five weeks ago, an accident “not on, but that did involve, a horse” left Emma with a fractures to her foot and a stint on the sidelines.

    “It makes me emotional,” said Emma in the video above, reflecting on the pivotal role her support squad have played, more than ever, this summer. “Because without the team, this doesn’t happen. They’ve had to work harder, and I’ve had to do less because my foot wasn’t as strong, so it really has been a massive team effort.”

    Her injury meant that her two Burghley contenders – the veteran grey Waldo III and five-star debutant Darrant – missed their plan A preparation runs at Burgham and Hartpury. Instead re-routing for the open intermediate at Frickley.

    Meanwhile Emma’s own preparation has included physio, oxygen therapy, laser therapy and pulse-magnetic therapy to “try to get it as strong as possible”.

    “You think it’s just a little bone in your foot, but that’s your balancing point when you’re in the stirrup,” she said, going on to explain how her recovery included a psychological element as well as the physical healing.

    “Once I’d had laser treatment, the doctor told me I needed to ‘train my brain that it didn’t hurt’. That’s what I’ve been spending the last two weeks doing.”

    Burghley has returned in a different world to the one it left when the park gates closed after the five-star in 2019.

    “Burghley has meant so many things to so many people,” said Leicestershire-based Emma.

    For her, it is her local five-star – a place she grew up being inspired by, taking part in the Pony Club showjumping in ring two, watching her heroes. This year’s event is also a poignant marker for Emma, who revealed it will be her 19-year-old campaigner Waldo’s final five-star.

    “Whatever happens this week for him, it’s just lovely to have him here feeling so well,” said Emma, who owns the Faldo son with Sophia Robinson.

    “He has never felt or looked so well. He is 19, but we missed two years through Covid, and I feel that horses tell you when they are ready to step down. If at any stage over the next few days I feel he isn’t ready, he won’t run.

    “We call him Grandpa at home, he is an absolute yard favourite and he means the world to everybody.”

    Her two rides are like “chalk and cheese”, with the 14-year-old Darrant, known to his friends as David or Davide, as laid back as Waldo is expressive.

    “He was bought and turned up at my yard as a hunter about five years ago – he had been out on the showjumping circuit and had been a bit naughty,” said Emma, who owns the Warrant gelding with Rowena Stevenson. “He found himself on the hunting field and I thought ‘this horse has a bit of potential’. And here he is now about to tackle his first five-star.”

    Keep up with all of the breaking news, behind the scenes insight and the best of the action throughout Burghley Horse Trials with no limit on how much you can read from as little as £1 per week with a Horse & Hound unlimited website subscription. Sign up now. Plus enjoy our full 20-page magazine report on Burghley, including in-depth analysis and exclusive comments from Nick Burton and Mark Phillips, in next week’s magazine (8 September). 

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