‘Eventing is a family’: The joy of supporting others to achieve their Badminton Horse Trials dreams – and beyond

  • It takes a village to get a horse and rider to Badminton Horse Trials, so the saying almost goes.

    Fiona Kashel credited the team behind the scenes for her “amazing” first run at the Gloucestershire five-star, which is presented by Mars Equestrian, with her own 14-year-old Irish gelding Creevagh Silver De Haar.

    “I had one whoopsie at 14c [the KBIS Brush Village], but I just turned too early. I was so desperate to get the three and it was just my fault. I’m over the moon with him, he tried his absolute heart out for me and I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’m just pleased I got over the finish line,” she says.

    “He was so good the whole way around. He was bold, he was brave, I just didn’t know whether the questions would just sap him a bit. He’s not a very blood horse and I credit my team at home. They’ve done a lot of work taking him to the gallops and going out on very long hacks in the afternoons and we’ve got him super fit.

    “I didn’t know whether he would tire mentally, but he just kept coming. He wasn’t tired at all at the end, it was a great feeling.”

    The pair added 20 jumping and 32.8 time penalties to their first-phase score of 35.5 and head into showjumping in 43rd place.

    Fiona’s support team this week includes groom Josh Levi and five-star event rider and friend Imogen Murray, who came to walk the course with her on Friday.

    “It’s always been a childhood dream,” says Fiona, in the video above, adding they call him “the underdog”.

    “Josh has asked me about 10 times already if it has hit me that I’m here, and I kept saying ‘no’. Then I was warming up for the dressage and said ‘Josh, it’s hit me!”

    Imogen adds: “Everyone says eventing is a big family and it really is.

    “Part of the enjoyment of coming to these big events, all the stay-away events really, is that family aspect of it and supporting each other. I probably get more nervous watching than I do riding myself.”

    Josh has been at Creevagh Silver De Haar’s side for the past seven years.

    “To finally be at the big competition here is such a great feeling,” says Josh, who also praised the team at home.

    “We work really hard behind the scenes, and I think that’s something some people don’t see.

    “The care and the detail you have to put into these horses – and the riders – to make they are fit, healthy and performing at their best to get here.

    “I was quite emotional because you’ve made it, you’ve finally done it. All these years you’ve had leading up to it and you go underneath that Badminton Horse Trials archway into the arena and it’s just that pure buzz and the pride you have that you’ve turned your horse out to the best you can, your rider is looking smart and they do the best they can.”

    Read our full Badminton form guide in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound (issue dated 5 May 2022). Our bumper 20-page Badminton report will be in our 12 May issue and keep fully up-to-date with all the action during Badminton week via horseandhound.co.uk, where a host of features and reports will be published.

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