‘He had to stay in his stable for a year’: Badminton debutant saved for the big time after serious injury

  • Mike Winter might be in mid-division of the dressage leaderboard, but El Mundo’s Badminton debut is a bonus for the horse the Canadian describes as “a real pet”. It’s a testament to the gelding’s temperament that he is still competing today, let alone at Badminton Horse Trials, the event presented by Mars Equestrian. When he was contesting his first novice as a six-year-old he had a serious accident.

    “He broke his stifle at a sunken road,” said Gloucestershire-based Mike. “He had to spend a long time on cross-ties in the box, with the whole family sleeping in the lorry at the yard so we could let him off the cross-ties to put his head down every four hours.

    “He was meant to be on cross-ties for 12 weeks, but after 10 weeks we went to his stable and we thought he’d escaped,” Mike remembers. “But he was just lying down in his cross-ties – he wanted to lie down so badly. After that we let him loose. But he stayed in the box for a year – he was only allowed to be hand-walked after six-months. He was very good on it – it made him into a real pet, because he’s a shy horse and he just had to stay on the yard while everyone else was being worked.”

    He then spent three months under saddle before being turned out for a further three months. He was back competing nearly two years later, in 2017.

    “We initially bought him to sell, but we couldn’t after his stifle injury, and now he’s part of the family,” said Mike.

    Mike Winter: ‘He’s a lot of fun to ride and he loves his job’

    El Mundo’s also a “very good horse”. Although the dressage mark of 34.6 wasn’t as high as he’d hoped, Mike took positives from their test.

    “It was probably my worst score at the level,” said Mike. “He was a bit shy at the end, but I’m happy with him and myself, just not so happy with the score.

    “But he’s a lovely horse, a good horse: he’s quiet in the dressage, he’s brave cross-country, he wants to showjump well – and my 13-year-old daughter does dressage on him.”

    Mike is looking forward to the cross-country challenge.

    “The track is what I was hoping for, but that doesn’t calm the nerves,” he said. “It should suit this horse in that it’s big and bold, and I can use his big stride and scope to my advantages. I have a good ability to manoeuvre him at pace. He’s honest and he has the scope – he’s a lot of fun to ride and loves his job.”

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