‘I still keep dropping the reins’ — rider comes back from cross-country accident to qualify for next year’s Royal International

Despite struggling to hold her double reins during the class, one home-produced show rider picked up her first qualification for the 2019 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) at the Royal Lancashire Show recently (19-21 July).

Sapphire Sloan and her pony Glynbourne Eleri — a seven-year-old plaited coloured mare — took their first ever ticket to Hickstead after winning a strong non-native pony class.

Sapphie has owned Eleri since she was a foal and has done all the work with her herself.

“She hasn’t been the easiest pony as she used to be a nightmare on the ground,” says Sapphire. “She had a novice season last year and the plan was to do a few 2020 qualifier this summer so we could get some feedback from judges ready for next year. This is our first season contending the qualifiers.’’

Despite having a well-laid plan, Sapphire is still battling with the effects of a recent injury she obtained while cross-country schooling at the start of the season.

“It was actually a small altercation which resulted in me coming home with a bad injury,’’ she continues. “Eleri loves to jump so we took her cross-country schooling for a bit of fun. We rode up a step which had a ditch underneath with water. Eleri saw her own reflection and freaked, causing her to throw her head back pushing my thumb right back so it touched my forearm. I carried on jumping but when I got back to the lorry and took my glove off, it wasn’t a pretty sight.’’

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A hospital trip revealed Sapphire had torn her ACL and she was then required to have her hand in a cast for eight weeks.

“As I’m left hand dominant and I’d done it to that hand, daily life was really tricky,’’ she explains. “We decided to enter Royal Lancs in the hope we could go but I wasn’t even meant to be riding by the time the show came around. I practised with the double reins twice at home and I couldn’t even hold them properly, but we decided to go anyway as we’d missed enough of the season.

“On the day, my hand was still strapped up so my mum had put the reins in my hand and off we went. All I kept thinking was just don’t drop them! She did a lovely show so it was amazing to be rewarded with the win. Though our early ticket has thrown my plan off a bit!’’

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