‘I tried to pull it back on, but it was gone’: heart-stopping moment Welsh stallion loses his bridle mid-test

  • Katherine Marks had only decided to take her Welsh cob stallion for a quick Sunday outing to her local equestrian centre to get some miles in before their regionals debut next month. But not only did she come home with a red rosette, but also with a hilarious story to tell.

    Katherine’s Thorneyside Guardsman — who is known as Douglas at home — managed to part company with his bridle during his test at an unaffiliated competition held at Spot Acre Equestrian.

    However, after dismounting and putting his bridle back on at the judge’s request, Katherine and her stallion recommenced their test, finished and won their class by an impressive 15%.

    “He worked in really well and I was fairly confident going into the arena,” reminices Katherine, who bought Douglas as a three-year-old colt and has ridden him to much success in the show ring. “I started my test and really did think it was going amazingly well. He was connected in my hands and was sitting up.

    “We walked between K and A before changing the rein in free walk. I gave my rein forward and the bridle suddenly slid over his ears. I tried to lean forward to pull it back on, but it was gone.

    Credit: Philippa Jayne Photography

    “It was the first time I’d used an ear bonnet on him and I think it made the bridle ride up. There aren’t many times when I’m speechless but this was one of them. I had to dismount and I instantly thought I was eliminated as you would be in the show ring. However, the judge asked me to put the bridle back on, remount and carry on with my test.

    “When I got home I checked the British Dressage rules and it states that a rider is allowed to get back on at the judge’s discretion and only if the dismount was necessary; I don’t think it could have been more necessary!”

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    Katherine says Douglas was given a two-point penalty for the malfunction, but that his temperament meant she could laugh the incident off as “just one of those things”.

    “The photographer kindly fetched me a mounting block and I carried one with the test,” continues Katherine. “I was thrilled with the result, but I was more delighted at how well natured Douglas was. It could have been a disaster, but he was just an angel. In these strange times we definitely need something to laugh about and this was one of those things!”

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